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"Going vertical" in times of insecurity

Constructing proximity and distance through a Kenyan gated high-rise

Zoë Goodman

The global proliferation of elite high-rise apartments is often read as evidence of social failure, of increasing socioeconomic disparity and fragmentation. The Jaffery Complex, a vertiginous gated high-rise being constructed in the Kenyan port of Mombasa, seems to embody Corbusian ideologies of social transformation based on an explicit distancing from the streets below, insulating its incoming residents from the frequently fused threats of terror, poverty, and crime. However, ethnographic attention to the multistory mosque located within the complex challenges readings of elite stacked housing solutions as “vertical cocoons,” and reveals the tension between proximity and distance that this urban redevelopment strives to construct.