Kabage Karanja

Architect - Founder + Director, Cave bureau

Kabage Karanja is an architect, spelunker and adjunct assistant professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture Planning & Preservation, GSAPP. He founded Cave_bureau in 2014 alongside Stella Mutegi. As 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 in East Africa. As a serial sketcher and storyteller, Kabage is driven to script and communicate cave thinking in relation to both built and natural environments. Recent exhibitions include the Architect’s Studio exhibition at the Louisiana Museum 2023; The 18th International Architecture Exhibition, Venice 2023; The 17th International Architecture Exhibition, Venice 2021, where he was awarded a Special Mention for the installation titled “Obsidian Rain”; The World Around Summit, Guggenheim Museum, 2021; Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial, 2019-20; London Festival of Architecture 2018. Karanja lives and works in Nairobi.

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.

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