Kounkuey Design Initiative

A look at the people, places, and processes involved in creating KDI's first productive public space in Kibera.

Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI) is a nonprofit design and community development organization that partners with underserved communities in the U.S., Africa, and Latin America to physically transform communities and thereby improve the environmental, economic, and social quality of life.

Created in 2006, KDI is comprised of architects, landscape architects, engineers, urban planners, and community organizers. It believes that participatory planning and design are essential to sustainable development. By working collaboratively with communities from conception through implementation, KDI builds on their ideas, enhances the with technical knowledge and design innovation, and connects them to resources. 

In summer 2016, KDI was engaged in a GO HUMAN Campaign which brought six dynamic open streets events to cities across the southland. It also partnered with the Department of Transportation on the LA Play Streets Pilot Program done in partnership with LADOT and the Mayor’s Great Streets Initiative. In fall 2016 KDI will construct a 5-acre Productive Public Space in North Shore California, a rural, primarily Latino community on the edge of the Salton Sea. 

In addition, KDI is participating in IDEO's Amplify Challenge on Urban Flooding.

Selected awards:

Innovation Challenge Winner
Rockefeller Foundation, 2012

International ReSource Award for Sustainable Watershed Management
Swiss Re, 2012

Finalist, Sustainable Urban Housing: Collaborating for Livable and Inclusive Cities Competition
Ashoka, 2011






Chelina Odbert
Executive Director

Downtown Los Angeles

Area served:
U.S., Africa, Latin America

# of employees:

Organizational model
Nonprofit (donations + earned income)

Guidestar report