The Anthropocene Museum
Our research and exhibition programmes fall under what we call The Anthropocene Museum. This conjoined title recognises the proposed new geological epoch we are living in. The Anthropocene is a geological time interval starting from the middle of the twentieth century, in which the processes of our Earth have been profoundly altered by human activities taking place since the industrial revolution.
We consider The Anthropocene Museum to be an institution that is already present on a planetary scale, where humanity has embedded and continues to embed its imprint on the Earth. We find it myopic and overly human centered to embody this reading of a living museum into a single, self-gratifying building. With this framing, we also look to challenge the dominant western conception and operation of a museum and the Anthropocene itself from an African oral storytelling perspective.
We curate a convening of community groups in different locations to confront pressing environmental and cultural challenges of the times. Through collaborative processes, we see our role as architects being ‘conveners’ of different stakeholders in The Anthropocene Museum, pulling together varying community groups, artists, historians, archaeologists, healers, anthropologists, surveyors among others to embed the museum within the natural environment, and specifically within caves.
Cave_bureau is a Nairobi-based bureau of architects and researchers charting explorations into architecture and urbanism within nature. Our work addresses and works to decode both anthropological and geological contexts of the postcolonial African city, explored through drawing, storytelling, construction, and the curation of performative events of resistance. The bureau is driven to develop systems and structures that improve the human condition, without negatively impacting the natural environment and social fabric of communities. By conducting playful and intensive research studies into caves within and around Nairobi, we aim to navigate a return to the limitless curiosity of our early ancestors while confronting the challenges of contemporary rural and urban living.
Kabage Karanja is an architect and spelunker. He founded Cave_bureau in 2014 alongside Stella Mutegi. A natural environment enthusiast, he leads the bureau’s geological and anthropological investigations into architecture and nature, which includes orchestrating expeditions and surveys into caves within the Great Rift Valley. He is a serial sketcher and storyteller, driven to script and communicate cave thinking in relation to both built and natural environments. Recent exhibitions of Cave_bureau’s work include: 17th International Architecture Exhibition, Venice 2021; The World Around Summit, Guggenheim Museum, 2021; Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial, 2019-20; London Festival of Architecture, 2018. Karanja lives and works in Nairobi.
Stella Mutegi is an architect and spelunker. She founded Cave_bureau in 2014 alongside Kabage Karanja. She is known in the bureau as the problem slayer of all design issues, heading up the technical department and orchestrating the seamless coordination of ideas into built form. She partakes in all Cave_bureau expeditions and surveys into caves within the Great Rift Valley, later steering those geological and anthropological investigations towards a unique architectural product. Recent exhibitions of Cave_bureau’s work include: 17th International Architecture Exhibition, Venice 2021; The World Around Summit, Guggenheim Museum, 2021; Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial, 2019-20; London Festival of Architecture, 2018. Mutegi lives and works in Nairobi.