The Kumba exterior views. Top: Paris, France; Washington DC, USA. Bottom: Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. Renderings by Creaviz.

Kumba is a global coliving brand that merges global and local in a sustainable and resilient manner.

Think global, Act local

Can a global brand contribute to local culture and local economy and urban resilience, all the while maintaining brand continuity? Can global and local truly coexist? These are the questions that this case study project addresses. In order to test the idea of thinking global and acting local, I present to you “Kumba: one brand, three buildings”. The Kumba case study project was elaborated using the Place Responsive Design Method, a universal method for unique resilient designs.

Introducing Kumba

The global coliving program and brief I’ve tasked myself with reflects today’s globalisation times. The brief is a global chain I’ve come up with named Kumba, meaning “at home” in swahili, that provides a 21st century way to live in the city through sharing and collectivity. The target group are starters, aged 25- 35, seeking affordability, convenience, community all in the city.

Balancing individual and collective spaces

The gist of the Kumba brand: individual house meets collective housing for a healthy, social, urban place to call home. There is a play on the gradient from private to public, intimate to collective that is reflected in the spaces offered within the building offering its users a healthy balanced lifestyle.

What’s included at Kumba: Private room, shared spaces to cook, interact with others, gym membership, laundrette acces to coworking spaces, cultural events & program and convenience to city amenities closeby.

Three locations across the globe

Not only does the program reflect our times, but the needs of the client should as well. The client envisages opening three Kumba locations in three different locations across the world. The Kumba experience is to remain the same despite the location. The company’s identity and values must be integrated into the design and very much apparent regardless of location. In addition, there is a demand for reducing the costs of the operation.

The chosen locations are: Paris, France; Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago and Washington, D.C. United States of America. We thus have locations in different parts of the world with a location in Europe, one in the Caribbean and one in North America. Not only does it provide a varied study but the choice of location also has a personal dimension. Indeed, during the course of my life I called all these places home and therefore it was only natural to use this opportunity to discover more about these places and myself.

Balancing local and global to foster urban resilience

The private and collective spaces of the coliving complex are approached differently allowing for a business model that takes both the benefits of the local and the global. Regardless of location, the private spaces all feature the KumbaPod which regroups all the personal functions needed to live, assuring a consistent user and brand experience. 

The KumbaPod couples standardised global design with the use of local materials through digitalisation, CNC machine laser cutting and dry assembly. In contrast, the collective program – the shared kitchens, living rooms and amenities – is unique to each location as it is inspired by the buildings’ contexts as analysed and interpreted using the Place Responsive Design Method.

Each of the case studies fosters resilience through its unique and tailored approach to the incorporation of the local economy and materiality, healthy living and well-being, conservation of environmental assets, and climatic and energy performance.

Kumba: Paris, France – Courtyard Living

Paris Kumba experience: Inviting you to penetrate into the courtyards of the urban city blocks of Paris and discover a vibrant inner world between old and new that embraces community spirit and fosters connections.

Kumba: Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago – Savannah Park living

Port of Spain Kumba experience: Bringing the Savannah, the lungs of the city, as well as its collective qualities on the site for a green and community rich place to call home.

Kumba: Washington DC,  USA – Vertical grid living

DC Kumba experience: Explore the city grid extended vertically into the building creating a vertical village with a network of inner streets that echo the animated surrounding streets fostering interactions.

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