Public Space Designer and Urban Planner Urban Planner, (Nairobi), Deadline: 12 December 2018

By on 12/06/2018


   Issued on: 05/12/2018




UN-Habitat, City Planning, Extension and Design


Nairobi/ Kenya



Public Space Designer and Urban Planner Urban Planner







12 months, Start Date 05 February 2019







The United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-Habitat, is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all. The main documents outlining the mandate of the organization are the Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements, the Habitat Agenda, the Istanbul Declaration on Human Settlements, the Declaration on Cities and Other Human Settlements in the New Millennium, and UN General Assembly Resolution A/56/206.

The United Nations Millennium Declaration recognizes the dire circumstances of the world’s urban poor. It articulates the commitment of Member States to improve the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020- Millennium Development Goal No. 7, Target 11- which is UN-Habitat’s mandate.

The New Urban Agenda, aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change, is an inclusive, action-oriented, and concise document intended to guide the next 20 years of sustainable and transformative urban development worldwide. It has a strong focus on the inclusion and participation of stakeholder groups, civil society, and grassroots organizations. Sub-national and local governments are supported as strategic and operational partners for implementation, along with national governments.

As our cities and towns grow at unprecedented rates, setting the social, political, cultural and environmental trends of the world, sustainable urbanization is one of the most pressing challenges for the global community in the 21st century. In 1950, one-third of the world’s population lived in cities. Just 50 years later, this proportion has risen to one-half and will continue to grow to two-thirds, or six billion people, by 2050. Cities are now home to half of humankind. They are the hub for much national production and consumption- economic processes that generate wealth and opportunity. But they also create disease, crime, pollution and poverty. In many cities, especially in developing countries, slum dwellers number more than 50% of the population and have little or no access to shelter, water and sanitation. This is where UN-Habitat is mandate to make a difference for the better. 

  1. The UN-Habitat Urban Planning LAB

The Urban Planning and Design Lab (UPD LAB) is an initiative from UN-Habitat to promptly respond to the requests of national and local governments to support sustainable urban development.

The LAB acts as the integrative facility of the Agency in which spatial planning is used as the tool coordinating economic, legal, social and environmental aspects of urban development, translating them into concrete and implementable projects that materialize the normative work of UN-HABITAT. These urban strategies generate value, economic development and jobs.

The UPD-LAB is formed by a multidisciplinary team of urban planners, legal and financial experts providing a holistic proactive approach.

Due to this, the UPD-LAB has become the team building facility inside the Agency where different areas of expertise come together to deliver concrete and integrated solutions.                  

The focus areas of the LAB are:

  • Citywide strategies
  • Planned city extensions (and new towns)
  • Urban infill, densification and renewal
  • Planning guidelines and capacity development
  • Climate change and urban planning

The LAB is currently working in concrete projects joining international and local expertise in more than 20 countries and 40 cities in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia.

The UPD LAB is also the cornerstone of the Global Network of Planning and Design LAB’s, an initiative supported by member states during the 25th Governing Council of UN-Habitat.

The Network promotes the collaboration of international experts working together in different countries with local partners to propose implementable plans. 

  1. The Global Public Space Programme

UN-Habitat’s Global Public Space Programme, launched in 2011, works with national and local governments to improve public spaces globally. Objectives of the programme. The objectives of the Global Programme on Public Space are:

  • To promote public space as an important element for creating sustainable cities, for improving the quality of life of urban citizens, and as a key lever in the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, continuing the dialogue following Habitat III and for monitoring the implementation of the SDG 11.7.1
  • To consolidate knowledge, good approaches, tools and methodologies on public space and make these accessible, particularly to local government partners;
  • To engage the broader network of partners and public space practitioners in the global promotion of good policies and practice on public space;
  • To demonstrate, through pilot projects and in partnership with cities, the importance of public spaces in achieving social, economic, environmental and other benefits to cities.

The programme is organized around three main areas:

Partnerships and networking – An important part of the Programme is to bring together a broad global network of partners working on the issue of public space, and UN-Habitat has agreements and ongoing activities with various organizations. These partners are brought together annually at either the World Urban Forum and/or the Future of Places Conference.

Knowledge management, advocacy and tools – To institutionalize public space in the normative work of partner organizations and cities, UN-Habitat promotes a policy approach, develops tools and indicators and runs capacity building programmes.

Public space demonstration projects and city-wide strategies – To show the importance of public space on the ground, UN-Habitat supports cities in implementing public space demonstration projects, city-wide strategies and sectoral development plans. These activities are strategic entry points for public space as well as for demonstrating participatory approaches to public space design, implementation, and management, allowing UN-Habitat to demonstrate the challenges encountered by cities in public space implementation.

An important component of the Global Public Space Programme is UN-Habitat’s collaboration with Mojang and the Block by Block Foundation. Since 2012, UN-Habitat has been collaborating with Mojang, the makers of Minecraft, in an innovative public-private partnership called Block by Block, in which Minecraft is used as a community participation tool in the design of urban public spaces.  Experience from 50 projects in 25 countries show that Minecraft is a useful tool for engaging communities, particularly youth, women and slum dwellers in these processes. Through participatory design workshops, we bring citizens together to visualize their ideas in Minecraft, and present these to city authorities. The Minecraft designs are then used to implement real public space improvement projects. 

  1. Why are consultants needed?

UN-Habitat requires a consultant to work with urban planning and public space design across the Global Public Space Programme and the Urban Planning and Design Lab. 50 per cent of the consultant’s time will be spent on the Public Space Programme and 50 per cent on the Lab.


The Consultant will be under the overall leadership of the Leader, City Planning, Extension and Design Unit and report to the Managers of the Global Public Space Programme and the Urban Planning and Design Lab. 

Specific Responsibilities

  1. Provide planning and design inputs to ongoing planning initiatives, including citywide strategies,

extension plans and urban transformation plans.

  1. Develop clear planning proposals, drawings and related reports for partner cities.
  2. Review of proposals and design prepared by local planners for various pilot cities
  3. Develop critical analysis of existing planning documents and instruments.
  4. Provide inputs to guide or facilitate the delivery of relevant urban legislation reviews and financial mechanism in view of plan implementation and planning processes support.
  5. Provide design inputs to public space implementation projects
  6. Facilitate public space and Block by Block community participation workshops
  7. Translate Minecraft sketches into public space designs
  8. Provide inputs into CPEDU publications and documents
  9. Attend meetings and conferences within and outside UN-Habitat on behalf of the Unit

Outputs/Work Assignment

The main outputs that are expected are:

  1. Urban Planning and Design proposals and related reports.
  2. Comments and inputs to planning proposals.
  3. Presentations.
  4. Report on urban planning documents.
  5. Inputs to economy and legislation reviews related to urban planning.
  6. Participatory, multi-stakeholder processes and related sessions.
  7. Clear analytical drawings, design drawings and diagrams at various scales: region, city, neighborhood.
  8. Reflective texts on projects, processes and best practices
  9. Develop clear planning proposals, drawings and related reports for partner cities.
  10. Represent the Unit at meetings and conferences within and outside UN-Habitat
  11. Develop critical analysis of existing planning documents and instruments.
  12. Provide planning and design inputs to ongoing planning initiatives, including city wide strategies, extension plans and urban transformation plans
  13. Block by Block process reports.

Output production will be documented regularly through interim reports covering the tasks above and one final report, summarizing the work done and presenting all outputs in electronic and hard copy format. The majority of the work will take place from home but weekly communication with the Public Space Programme and the Urban Planning and Design Lab is expected.


It is expected that the consultants will need to undertake regular missions to facilitate design and community participation processes.  



Knowledge and understanding of theories, concepts and approaches relevant to urban planning and design. Strong analysis of urban form, urban systems, underlying social, legal and financial mechanisms and the political context. Ability to develop strong graphic materials (concept plans, diagrams, street sections) as well as substantive reports. Knowledge of urban development issues. Ability to observe deadlines and achieve set goals. Ability to work and deliver under pressure. 


Excellent written and oral presentation skills in English. Excellent capacity to produce and manipulate graphic documents and drawings. Good presentation skills. Ability to communicate complex interventions in a clear language and convincing narratives. Sketching capabilities to effectively communicate in workshop settings and teams. 


Ability to work collaboratively with colleagues to achieve agreed goals. 

Planning and Organizing:

Ability to prioritize activities and assignments and to easily switch between different projects.


Strong conceptual thinking. Is not bound by current thinking or traditional approaches, takes calculated risks on new and unusual ideas; thinks “outside the box”, and offers new and different options to solve problems or meet client needs. Can easily develop clear plans in contexts with limited information and datasets. Finds ways to extract and combine data and information to create base maps. Is both able to reduce complexity as well as sensitive to specific urban form and the landscape. 


University degree in Architecture or Urban Planning, or related field that is relevant for sustainable urban development and urban planning and design. A first-level university degree in combination with qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.


Between 2 to 5 years of experience in urban planning and design with direct proven experience in drawing and preparing plan graphical material using computer assisted design tools. Strong graphic representation skills required. Good hand drawing / sketching is an advantage. The candidate has a portfolio of plans and designs of which he/she is the author.  Experience of facilitating community participation processes related to urban planning, design and public space development and management.  Experience of playing Minecraft, using Minecraft as a community participation tool and translating Minecraft sketches into actionable public space designs. 


For this consultancy, fluency in oral and written English is required. Although not a requirement, knowledge of French, Spanish, or Arabic will be an advantage 

Applications should include:

·      Cover memo (maximum 1 page)

·      Summary CV (maximum 2 pages), indicating the following information:

1.       Educational Background (incl. dates)

2.       Professional Experience (assignments, tasks, achievements, duration by years/ months)

3.       Other Experience and Expertise (e.g. Internships/ voluntary work, etc.)

4.       Expertise and preferences regarding location of potential assignments

5.       Expectations regarding remuneration 

All applications should be submitted to:


P.O. Box 30030, 00100 Nairobi, Kenya


Deadline for applications: 12 December 2018 

UN-HABITAT does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process. If you have any questions concerning persons or  companies claiming to be recruiting on behalf of these offices and requesting the payment of a fee, please contact:


Main Menu