Stella Mutegi is an architect, spelunker and adjunct assistant professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture Planning & Preservation, GSAPP. 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 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 she 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. Stella 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.