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Parliament buildings Opinion

A case against elevated Uhuru Highway Opinion

Symbiocity Main feature

New KCB Headquarters

Konza City: Will it work in its current form?



Buildesign NOVEMBER — DECEMBER 2012

Contents Features 10 What if


16 Konza City 19 SymbioCity

Buildings 6

KCB Headquarters

20 Parliament Buildings


10 A case against elevated Uhuru Highway 14 When fear builds 22 Incorporating hawkers in the city’s design

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24 Dealing with traffic menace


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n this issue of the BUILDesign magazine, we delve deeper into the Elevated Uhuru Highway project and present to you two sets of varied opinions, one asking ‘why not?’ and another ‘what for?’


Martin Tairo

Editorial Silas Odiero Coordinator: Contributors: Robyn Emerson Eric Kigada George Arabbu Mumba Hinzano Karuga Koinange Gideon Ngumbau Patrick Kathuli Eric Loki Henrik Danielsson Design:

Mejumaa Mbaruku

Photography: Digital Eye Advertising: Tel: (+254) 0722387110 (+254) 0725722225 Publisher:

Sterling Magazine Limited P. O. Box 20443 - 00100 GPO, Nairobi, Kenya


Architecture Kenya Media Ltd Sterling Magazine Limited DISCLAIMER

No part of this magazine may be reproduced in any form or stored on a retriaval system without the permission of the publisher. The publisher cannot accept responsibility for any errors that may appear or for any consequence of using the information contained here in.

For enquiries and feedback send your mail to: Sterling Magazines Limited P. O. Box 20443, 00100 GPO, Nairobi, Kenya Email:


Buildesign NOVEMBER — DECEMBER 2012

There have been cases where elevated freeways have been demolished and replaced with surface roads. These include Portland Harbour Drive, San Francisco Central Freeway, San Francisco Embarcadero Freeway, Boston Central Artery, Seoul Korea, Chattanooga Riverfront Parkway and Trenton Route 29 among others. Will we be headed in the same direction? If so, how then do we deal with the perennial traffic congestion in the city? Karuga Koinange, Eric Kigada and I have looked at these issues and raise points for discussion. We have carried out a feature opinion on the proposed ICT city, billed to be the Silicon Valley of the region, the Konza City. Kathuli Patrick tells us why he thinks this project will not work in its current form. We have reviewed the upcoming KCB headquarters in Upper Hill which is both an environmental icon. The architects talked to us about their strategy which will result in, among others, a building that will have no mechanical ventilation system. We have also looked at the recent modernization of the Kenyan parliament. The Embassy of Sweden and the Swedish Trade Council have also invited us to a workshop on a unique concept called ‘SymbioCity’ this November. This concept promotes a holistic and integrated approach to sustainable urban development. We will carry an extensive feature of this concept in our next issue of the magazine. Finally, our regular contributors have written incisive opinion pieces which you may or may not agree with. We thank you for having picked up this second issue of the BUILdesign magazine and are looking forward to have you as a permanent subscriber.



Our reader’s comments on the magazine Zahra Lodhi: Interesting name. So close to UK architecture magazine Building Design. Joseph Thuky: A great read. The magazine should go beyond architecture and tackle issues of urban planning. It is so sad that we are not embracing urban planning, leading to the many urban challenges we are experiencing in our cities. Alex Mutua: Some folks are quick to pass judgment and criticize this magazine at its infancy. We should instead offer support and nurture it while holding it to high standards. I think it is a step in the right direction and would like to congratulate Architecture Kenya Media Ltd on the launch. Am looking forward to upcoming issues.

Our Reader’s Comments On the Feature Story of David Mutiso Caleb Ayumba: Are you telling us that David Mutiso designed KICC? I thought it was Karl Henrik Nostivik….

Anthony Njuguna: If it was David Mutiso’s design, then he did not need Karl. But Karl needed a local architect to implement his design.

Arthur Mugo: Persistence, vision, determination and hard work. Good stuff. While questions have been raised about Mutiso’s involvement in KICC, his own building at Plums Lane has striking similarities in character to KICC. I am not sure which borrowed from the other.

Joshua Onyango: If it was David Mutiso who designed KICC, then Karl needed not to come to Kenya at all. For what purpose was he coming to Kenya?

Kiprop Cyprian: It is Karl Henrik Nostivik who designed it. David Mutiso was the resident architect. I have KICC drawings which have Karl’s name on the title block. Maina Gatongi: How can you make such a grave error on the top page? And I wonder what David Mutiso said about that.

Sujesh Patel: The first issue and you go the cover wrong! That would have gotten you fired if it was a reality show. KICC was designed by Karl H. Nostivik. Hellen Njue: On the first issue, we hope that was the last mistake on the cover page. Peter Wanyoike: David Mutiso did not design KICC. Anyway, the title is journalistic, intentional I guess. Charles Wambua: Mutiso might have been the resident project architect, certainly not the design architect. NOVEMBER — DECEMBER 2012 Buildesign



KCB Headquarters Upper Hill T

he brief was short, simple and to the point. The client required the design and construction of an environmentally friendly tower for the Bank’s headquarters in Upper Hill Nairobi. The overall design concept for the project has been influenced mainly by the various factors at play. The client needed to utilize full potential of their plot for the project to make economic

The location of the site, along Kenya Road in Upper Hill, is in line with Nairobi’s urban shift where businesses now prefer Upper Hill to the CBD due to the availability of space and reduced challenges associated with the CBD where access and parking pose a great challenge.


Buildesign NOVEMBER — DECEMBER 2012

sense. The site is however located on a flight path and this posed a height limitation. A balance had to be struck to satisfy both critical conditions. After considering various alternatives, a triangular shaped tower block was arrived at, soaring 25 levels to provide the highest point in the city, at least for the moment. The new headquarters for the Kenya

Commercial Bank will house a state of the art banking hall, personal banking facilities, administrative offices and conference facilities for meetings, conventions and workshops. The building will provide 800SQM of office space per level, and about 400 car parking on five parking levels. The location of the site, along Kenya Road in Upper Hill, is in line with Nairobi’s urban shift where businesses


Architect: Planning Systems Services Ltd Environmental Design Engineers: ARUP Quantity Surveyors: Armstrong & Duncan Structural Engineers: Baseplan Associates Services Engineers: EAMS Project Managers: Pinnacle Projects Main Contractor: China Wu Yi Kenya Ltd

NOVEMBER — DECEMBER 2012 Buildesign


MAIN FEATURE now prefer Upper Hill to the CBD due to the availability of space and reduced challenges associated with the CBD where access and parking pose a great challenge. As a result, Upper Hill is emerging as the next business hub in Nairobi with an unmatched level of development currently ongoing. The non frontal triangular shaped plan was intended to give all facades of the building prominence since a triangle has no front or back. This was to pose another great challenge; the building was, to a large extent, exposed to the glaring rays of the sun. The heat gain had to be contained at the minimum while allowing maximum daylight into the building. Use of mechanical ventilation systems was not an option. The result was a fully sun-shaded office spaces achieved by the solar control envelope, which comprises vertical and horizontal Aluminium fins. An atrium and triple storey landscaped sky courts will allow for natural ventilation. To further improve on day lighting, there is extensive use of light reflecting metallic silver finish on the solar shading fins, use of high light transmittance glass and louvered horizontal shading. The horizontal shading components will also act as maintenance platforms, providing a sustainable all-round solution. Exposed concrete waffles floor system provide for adequate thermal mass, absorbing internally generated heat during the day and getting cooled during the night. Three sky courts, each within the three “fire compartments” created to limit the spread of fire and smoke, will allow air movement into the building and up through the atrium. Rainwater collection (and treatment) and a water recycling will ensure low running costs. The building is


Buildesign NOVEMBER — DECEMBER 2012

Three sky courts, each within the three “fire compartments” created to limit the spread of fire and smoke, will allow air movement into the building and up through the atrium. serviced by seven high speed lifts, six main lifts (two of which are dedicated for firefighting) and one for the VIP. The last lift is dedicated for the disabled, providing access from the ground to the podium level. The main entry to the building will be at the Podium level.

months of the construction works. This called for ingenious ideas in recovering lost time. The use of a precast concrete waffle floor system coupled with 24hour working days ensured speedier construction, with a floor completed in every 10 days.

The hard Upper Hill bed rock provided the biggest challenge during the early

The core and shell of the building is set to be completed in early 2013.


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What if Nairobi T

he Embassy of Sweden and the Swedish Trade Council in collaboration with UN-HABITAT and Vision 2030 has organized a two day workshop in November dubbed ‘SymbioCity’ aimed at creating awareness on sustainable urban development. Is truly innovative architecture only possible with big money and high-tech ability? Or is it the opposite? Maybe it is the lack of these that creates an empty space in which new ideas can be born? If so, the revolution can start anywhere. These are the questions and realizations which led to the concept of ‘What If, Nairobi’. ‘What If 2012’ is a self-initiated architecture and design campaign that explores and communicates contemporary and visionary ideas for the built environment that affect our daily lives.

The campaign showcases great design ideas seeking to inspire everyone from fundis, architects, designers, developers, investors down to the average mwananchi (public). The campaign aims to celebrate and stir up debate within the city of Nairobi in an attempt to offer viable solutions to many of the city’s current and pressing issues.

projects which will be serialized on every issue of the BUILDesign magazine:• Highway Bypass • Jamhuri Estate • The Fuel Station • The Park • The Airport • Agriculture

The project concentrates primarily on the cityscape, investigating critical urban challenges (water, energy, transport etc.) and proposing a set of alternative solutions. Each project focuses on a particular aspect of Nairobi’s built environment ranging from cultural and retail centres to parks and bridges.

A functioning urban transport system is one that enables the efficient movement of people and goods within an urban area and its environs while promoting the productivity of an urban settlement. Through the construction of the Kenya Uganda Railway Nairobi was born and saw the first developments as railway buildings.

Om the first of a series of these campaigns, the team behind the campaign, led by designer Karuga Koinange, has focused on the following

As the population of Nairobi rapidly grew the railways fell behind leaving a large number of city residents commuting on foot or bicycle. In fact

The Highway Bypass

A Case Against the Elevated Uhuru Highway W

Ministry of Roads and streets fall under the jurisdiction of the Local Authorities.

In Kenya, ideally, roads would normally fall under the jurisdiction of the

Nairobi’s main roads are Mombasa Road (Nyayo Stadium to Mombasa), Thika Road (Muthaiga Golf club roundabout but technically it starts at the Forest road / Limuru Road junction next to the Swami temple), Waiyaki Way (Westlands roundabout), Naivasha Road (Dagoretti Corner), Ngong Road (Kenyatta Avenue , State House Road and Valley Road junction),

hat is the difference between a road and a street? A road connects two points. A street is a road flanked by buildings on either one or both sides creating a 3 dimensional space. Most cities grow from small villages and towns and are connected to other areas of commercial interest using roads.

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Lang’ata Road (Nyayo stadium to Bomas where it intersects with Rongai Road), Limuru Road (Ngara Road Muranga Road junction close to Jamhuri High School), Kiambu Road (Muthaiga Golf Club) and Kangundo Road (Umoja Outering Road). These connect Nairobi to the other cities and towns in Kenya. When we look at where these roads begin in Nairobi, one realises that there is a need to change our thinking of how


a study by Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) in 2004 showed nearly 50% of the 4.8 million daytrips in Nairobi were on non – motorised transport while about 15% use private cars; putting an estimate half a million cars on the road. The rest of the city commuters rely on public transport mainly consisting of privately

to handle them. All the roads originate well from within the city boundary limits. What does this have to do with the discussion about an elevated Uhuru highway? Actually, Uhuru highway is a small part of what will eventually be elevated according to the current plans. The elevated highway will start from somewhere between Capital Centre and Total Service Centre on Mombasa

Too much emphasis has been placed on private cars as a mode of transport. Children are growing up who have never been in any form of public transport in Nairobi.

road all the way past Westlands Roundabout on Waiyaki Way. The project is currently locked in a dispute with the World Bank withholding funds to the concession winner. World over, elevated highways seem to be places where no one wants to be under. The areas would usually be dirty and stinking. In the western world they might not be as dirty but they are the normal hangouts for drug addicts,

In Lagos, Nigeria and Cairo and tiny Luxor in Egypt, spaces underneath elevated highways have been turned into market places and makeshift living quarters, generally a very dirt place.

owned minivans known as matatu’s, minibuses and buses, with only a small number using train service. Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD) has developed from a railway depot to become the economic hub of the region. The CBD is accessed by a main trunk road leading to it western and

prostitutes and thugs. In Lagos, Nigeria and Cairo and tiny Luxor in Egypt, spaces underneath elevated highways have been turned into market places and makeshift living quarters, generally a very dirt place. Value of land bordering elevated highways characteristically drops. Slums develop or people desert the buildings within the vicinity. Heading from Cairo towards the Giza pyramids you get onto elevated highways across the Nile. The buildings bordering the highways are pitiful and closely resemble those in a war zone. This is the same for many cities in the World. Why would Kenya see it fit to construct

NOVEMBER — DECEMBER 2012 Buildesign


OPINION Southern neighbourhoods and towns. This road stretches approximately 27 km’s within the city boundaries and changes its name three times through the city. It is Mombasa Road leading south of the CBD towards Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) passing the industrial area, Uhuru Highway at the extents of the CBD, and finally Waiyaki Way north of the CBD passed high in comeresidential neighbourhoods to an informal settlement called Kangemi. Uhuru Highway is the shortest stretch at just over 2 km’s with three

an elevated highway on a road cutting through the city centre literally dividing the city into two and risking a serious drop in the value of land in the heart of the city? The common argument has been that there is too much traffic on Mombasa Road. This is true, since most of it is transit traffic. Does the transit traffic have to pass right through the city centre? Past master plans of Nairobi had taken note of these future challenges and proposed solutions. The 1948 master plan had ring roads (Outering Road and Ring Road starting from Kibera all the way to Gigiri which has never been completed). The 1973 master plan added the southern and northern by-passes. These were to keep traffic away from the city centre but along ring roads around the city. The current Uhuru Highway was meant to be intersected at 90 º angles with a promenade stretching from the national archive to community in the 1948 master plan. Events have overtaken the 1948 master plan vision and Uhuru highway has become a major thoroughfare. The by-passes and ring roads have never been completed.

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traffic circles, or roundabouts, where major arterials from the surrounding neighbourhoods enter the CBD. During peak travel times this trunk road is heavily congested and extremely unreliable taking a motorist anything from half an hour to a couple of hours to cross the CBD. Lack of supporting infrastructure for the majority of non – motorised commuters puts pedestrians and cyclists at greatest risk on the road with limited pavements and safe crossings, and no cycle lanes. Figures provided by the Ministry of Transport show that

The highway will be extended on either side to accommodate a bus lane, a fixed light rail train system, a cycle path and sidewalk. All roundabouts and intersection will be removed and replaced with strategically placed overpasses and underpasses feeding arterial roads.

Any road that is expanded attracts more users. Mombasa Road has been expanded, but it has not reduced the traffic. We now blame the roundabouts for the traffic jams and are planning to get rid of them, something that I consider a big mistake. Roundabouts can function without traffic lights. T-junctions and cross junctions cannot, especially on a multi lane highway. The traffic lights we install are badly programmed causing more traffic jams. If we build the overpass above Uhuru highway and get rid of the roundabouts, we will increase the traffic considerably and eventually the traffic jams. Too much emphasis has been placed on private cars as a mode of transport. Children are growing up who have never been in any form of public transport in Nairobi. The Nairobi Metropolitan 2030 Strategy mentions bicycles as a mode of transport only once. No explanation is given on how to promote it although this is one transport mode that is rapidly picking up in Nairobi. The least budget allocation (KES 0.1

billion) in the strategy is for the most common form of transport in Nairobi used by 60% of the population, walking. Pedestrians have been given a raw deal. Let’s leave out the elevated highway and build the ring roads as a closer or inner circuit encircling the city and the bypasses as an outer, wider

OPINION between 2000 and 2008 over 70% of road fatalities were pedestrians. This proposal looks at converting the highway from JKIA airport to Kangemi from an unreliable situation into a functioning modern intermodal transport system that connects commuters in, out and through the city affordably in reduced time therefore complimenting performance of the private sector and business community. The highway will be extended on either side to accommodate a bus lane, a fixed light rail train system, a cycle path and sidewalk. All roundabouts

ring road encircling the city. These should be promoted as the best way to go round and through the city, from west to east, north to south. Uhuru highway should be made a cumbersome road to use especially if you are driving through Nairobi. The intersections should retain the

and intersection will be removed and replaced with strategically placed overpasses and underpasses feeding arterial roads. Trains and high capacity buses will run on scheduled times making public transport more appealing to all, while promoting energy efficient high occupancy modes of travel. Safe crossing will be provided through traffic lights on Uhuru Highway and underground pedestrian subways on Mombasa road and Waiyaki way. An elevated express highway with no roundabout, traffic lights and intersections will serve high speed vehicular traffic from JKIA to Kangemi

with two exits away from the CBD on the northern and southern side.

roundabouts and all efforts made to discourage the use of Uhuru highway as a thoroughfare.

of cars on the roads. These simple measures plus re-looking at the roads within the city centre as streets would truly make Nairobi “The Green City in the Sun”.

Pedestrian walkways and bicycle paths should be built everywhere. A mass transit system like a light rail network should be built to reduce the stress

A functioning urban transport network makes a city more attractive and convenient place to live, work and play. Many cities in the Far East like Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur have improved economies and quality of life through the creation of an effective multimodal transport system. The burning question for Nairobi here is not what if? Rather, why not? - Karuga Koinange, an Architect practising in Nairobi

– Eric Kigada, an architect practising in Nairobi.

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When Fear Builds


frenzied and insatiable appetite for the boundary wall and its equally sinister equivalent the ‘gated community’ seem to have permeated our urban culture, and irreparably so.

This ‘residents only’ concept is part of a growing global urban living trend driven largely by a siege mentality of insecurity and exacerbated by acts of terrorism of the recent past. Yet in its pure form, it represents a damning aspect of social decline, instability and delinquency, an unsanctioned assault on public space and human decency. A tour around the city reveals the travesty that public space has become. For every built structure that is coming up, there is a fence, boundary wall or whatever other barrier to enclose it. The street today has become a disturbing retreat from the public realm where everyone is a suspect and every building a potential target. Whatever happened to defensible space and the idea that openness enhances security?

Whatever happened to defensible space and the idea that openness enhances security? Where democracy expects open societies, our fears are drastically returning us to the safety of fortresses. Who are we running away from anyway? Ourselves? Where architects are expected to sell the concept of defensible space to the public, drawing after drawing is submitted to the local Authorities complete with a boundary wall detail. Does this represent failure on the part of Architects to advise clients or a tacit

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endorsement of this troubling and ruinous concept? For the gated community be it an enclave for the rich and famous or subdivisions of the working class represents in its stark form separation by income, economic opportunity or race all seeds of social instability. Whilst golf and country club developments are understandable in their quest for exclusive lifestyle and prestige for their contemporaries, the security developments have fear as the greatest motivator. Yet both represent an embattled community whether by excesses of capitalism or unverifiable security concerns. For starters gates and fences are in themselves not impenetrable to serious criminals and neither do anything to curb crime arising from residents. In any case evidence of enhanced security remains anecdotal and unverifiable. Where they enclose inequality in

society, they have exacerbated, not reduced social tensions upheaval and controversy. We have a solemn duty to build communities which are the only hope in solving our social problems. Physical design, architecture, landscaping and lighting have a place in fighting crime and encouraging social community responses. This is what urban design has always envisaged ‘eyes on the street’ being the best defenses against security threats and crime. What then is the measure of nationhood when neighborhoods and public buildings require fences and patrols to keep out their fellow citizens? How will nations fulfill their social contracts if they prevent social contact? It is time to rise up to these attacks on the very idea of democracy. – Gideon Ngumbau - An architect with the Ministry of Public Works


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Konza Technology City

may not work in its current form


onza technology city, Africa’s Silicon Savanna, cannot work at least not in the present concept form. It is premised on the idea that a well planned area with decent buildings will attract IT talent and people will be able to come and do wonders with technology until we export the value and become a huge technology hub in Africa. Anassumption cannot be more false. Entrepreneurs do not crop up from nowhere and decide to relocate to a new town because it has new buildings, least of all, technology entrepreneurs.

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These can indeed work from anywhere. In fact, many budding ones only need a laptop and decent internet speeds and they are good to go. For any new city like a Konza to coalesce, there must be overwhelming pull factors and glass buildings are not good enough to attract them. Knocking off the success of Silicon Valley is about more than just looking and sounding the same. The government must understand who techpreneurs really are and how they thrive. Big office spaces and nice parks are not

prerequisite to software development, or Business Process Outsourcing. Google or Facebook did not originate from a fancy office block somewhere christened silicon something. What made Microsoft or RIM or Nokia grow into a large company has little to do with physical infrastructure. The government seems challenged in its understanding technology entrepreneurship. Other things, not buildings, drive great technology startups. Actually, many hackers love and thrive in some kind of chaos. It’s a unique culture. It is not

FEATURE a business or corporate-like culture, not a clean business and corporate environment like that planned in Konza. Infact, these nicely manicured environments corporatism and bureaucracy choke startups. Second, there is no money to do Konza. I mean venture and seed capital for the startups. Almost all the big techhits were funded at their nascence. The determined founders of Yahoo, Intel, Cisco and others borrowed capital to start their companies. Some seed investment was needed to create the first product. This seed money alongside mentorship comes from other rich techpreneurs, in return for equity in the new companies. These are mostly people who have made lots of money from selling technology companies and therefore are enthusiastic to take more risks by investing in new companies. Eventually, their investments pay off when the companies become Microsofts or Samsungs. I doubt any of those driving this Silicon Savanna idea have any of their own money invested in any technology company. They likely have most of their money in real estate and have no stocks of electron nature. Companies don’t get such seed money from banks.

Any aspiring internet entrepreneur in this country will tell you that services as basic as credit card processing are non-existed, or very poor at best in this country. Local Kenyan banks have not developed any of these. How can we create companies that we expect to pay or be paid online by customers overseas without such basic financial infrastructure? That is why the Silicon Valley was not born around Wall Street in New York or around Canary Wharf in London. These areas have money, but different type of money, bank money. Problem is bank money is not angel money and banks don’t understand software, hardware or applications. This brings me to another point about banks, and infrastructure at large. Any aspiring internet entrepreneur in this country will tell you that services as basic as credit card processing are non-existed, or very poor at best in this country. Local Kenyan banks have not developed any of these. How can we create companies that we expect to pay or be paid online by customers overseas without such basic financial infrastructure? Moreover, companies in this country have little regard for infrastructure

sharing. Every bank wants to have its own ATM outlets. There is no regulation on infrastructure sharing and therefore the costs of business operation are prohibitively high. Internet service in this country is also ridiculous. The fibre optic cable did not help for reasons that many cannot understand. Or shall we build an internetless Konza? What legislations do we have in place? Is our intellectual property law sufficient? Is there any cyberlegislation? Our government loves to outsource jobs to foreigners and disregards local talent and manpower. Starting from representation at the International Criminal Court to master planning of the Konza city, foreign manpower is employed. And this lack of trust with the locals is not restricted to lawyers or architects; many local IT firms have lost government contracts to HP, IBM, Oracle or other big companies because the government dismissed them for lack of capacity. How shall we create capacity if we do not believe in ourselves? Who will buy the goods and services of the Konza technology firms if the government cannot be the first client? It would be ironical to believe that the same government that decries lack of capacity of our local professionals is now on an about turn to trust the same local people to do big things, like create

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FEATURE big companies to rival Microsoft or Google or Facebook or HP.

unable to replicate the Silicon Valley phenomenon anywhere else apart from California.

1960s. This long drawn effort has borne little success and Cyberjava today is a whisper of its original promise.

We have the desire to create a silicon valley but we fall short of the pot of factors that bear a successful silicon valley.

Other countries, with far much more resources have tried with little success, including the U.K, Brazil and Russia. Even Malaysia, with its Cyberjava has failed to achievethe earlier vision. It has become something in housing and office blocks that a few people use during the day and a ghost town at night with little hope of a full cycle activity.

Silicon Valley is more than a collection of office blocks and incubation clusters. It is made of people – of seed investors,venture capitalists, researchers, entrepreneurs and technologists – and people are what Konza needs the most, not buildings.

In fact, we should be cautious to note that as much as Silicon Valley has contributed to the success of America, the country has been

Worth noting is the fact that CyberJava exists in this small scale albeit deliberate government efforts in human capital development after the

If we cannot convince or otherwise attract young Kenyan entrepreneurs to set shop in Konza, then we must forget shelve the allure that any serious Google or Microsoft or other BPO company will set up office in Konza.

Ultimately, a few people and companies may relocate due to the hype of course but nothing as serious to consider calling silicon anything. - Patrick Kathuli is an Architect working with the Kenya Wildlife Services

Worth noting is the fact that CyberJava exists in this small scale albeit deliberate government efforts in human capital development after the 1960s. This long drawn effort has borne little success and Cyberjava today is a whisper of its original promise. Silicon Valley is more than a collection of office blocks and incubation clusters.

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A Conceptual Framework to Sustainable Urban Development


he Embassy of Sweden and the Swedish Trade Council in collaboration with UN-HABITAT and Vision 2030 has organized a two day workshop in November dubbed ‘SymbioCity’ aimed at creating awareness on sustainable urban development. The workshop, that will present options within urban planning that address and improve the environmental, social and economic sustainability, will increase the knowledge of how to obtain a sustainable urban development in Kenya. This is in recognition that the rate of urbanization locally and in Africa is high and the citizen’s needs for more developed urban functions are constantly increasing. Practical experiences on how to implement ‘SymbioCity’, a Swedish concept, will be shared. The concept promotes holistic and sustainable urban development, finding potential synergies in urban functions and unlocking their efficiency and profitability. The SymbioCity

approach integrates different technologies and city functions instead of focus on them individually. The benefits are not only environmental, they are also cost-effective. The idea developed gradually, but started in the 1970’s when Sweden was an oil dependent country and realized the importance of the environment after the occurrence of several environmental scandals and the oil crises. New ways and methods were developed to reduce oil dependency. The seven building blocks of SymbioCity are Architecture, Energy, Landscape Planning, Traffic & Transport, Waste Management, Urban Functions, Industry and Buildings and Water Supply and Sanitation. Although the concept is Government led, Swedish companies have been actively involved in furthering the agenda and its implementation. There are many Swedish companies that deliver services and products within the framework of the SymbioCity concept, and these companies are world-leading

within their sections. The bearers of this concept are among all these companies, the consultants, urban planners and architects, and some of these companies are: Sweco, White, ÅF Consult, Scania, Volvo, Kapsch, Ericsson, ABB and Saab Group. Urban planning is a key part in the Swedish development cooperation with Kenya and one of the overall objectives with this workshop is spreading knowledge and experience in sustainable development and urban planning that is attached to the SymbioCity concept. The other objective is to increase theSwedish understanding of the Regional East African context in regards of urban planning and the utilities needed in the regional urban societies. The aim is to make this workshop a meeting of mutual interaction between Swedish and Kenyan urban planners and experts in environmental technology. Henrik Danielsson, Trade Commissioner, Swedish Trade Council

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Modernisation of the

Kenyan Parliament P

resident Mwai Kibaki recently opened the refurbished parliament’s chambers. The ultramodern debating facility has cost the taxpayer about 920 million shillings and has been undergoing renovation for three years. The major task in the refurbishment was to infuse modern technology and the trappings of the information age to the present chambers. This was to be done in a way that preserves the nostalgia that the Kenyan parliament inspires in those who served in the past. The challenge was to ensure improvement of natural lighting, internal climate, voting comforts,

acoustics and considerations for the physically challenged while maintaining its historical symbolism and appearance. This whole project was however marred by the controversy behind the price of the seats that were installed in the chambers. Media reports quoted figures ranging between Kshs 200,000 to Kshs 500,000 per seat, a figure that was so infamous

and noted to be insensitive to the current economic conditions in the country. During the opening of the Architect: K&M Archplans Quantity Surveyor: Ooro Sanya & Associates Civil & Structural Engineers: Gath Consulting Engineers Electrical & Multimedia Consultants: Feradon Mechanical Consultants: Geomax Consulting Engineers Artist: Kahari Miano Contractor: EPCO Builders

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BUILDING REVIEW current seat of the Kenyan National Assembly, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first president said, “This parliament represents our republic and the republic is the people.” The refurbishment and modernization provided an opportunity to reinterpret Kenyatta’s statement. The main objectives of the refurbishment were to accommodate increase in number of MPs; install radio/TV broadcasting facilities, CCTV systems, electronic voting system and telecommunication systems; improve acoustics and lighting and update interior décor to reflect contemporary standards.

the MPs which are clustered in groups of six separated by an aisle for ease of access. The seats have desktops which can be retracted into the workstations. These seats, which have been fastened sturdily into the floor, have been fabricated from high density reinforced polycarbonate cushion clad in subtly coloured leather. Views along and across the chamber have been enhanced. Natural air circulation has also been improved by increasing the interior volume through sinking the floor. This has reduced the need for air conditioning. The chamber floor is clad in high quality carpet in a blend of organic wool fibre and acrylic for durability and fire resistance.

The walls are sound proofed and upholstered in acoustic padding that complements the interior décor. The general arrangement and fittings have responded well to the user’s needs by increasing the comfort levels, improving accessibility even to the disabled and addition of technology aids. There is a big screen display that will show interpreters for MPs with impaired hearing or speech. Authentic Kenyan décor, artifacts and cultural materials have been selected and displayed in an effort to improve interior aesthetics. This has showcased local craftsmanship using timber, tapestry, metal and other materials.

The rectangular block seating arrangement in the chambers was outdated. The benches were bulky and occupied large amounts of spaces. Additionally, the seats lacked desk tops for note taking during parliament sessions. The colour scheme and interior décor was not well coordinated and looked dull to aging with time. Electrical and mechanical systems were outdated and inefficient. Fire fighting systems were inadequate. The new design proposed a spacious chamber providing sufficient space for individual MPs. Generous circulation spaces were allowed for and easy sightlines were achieved across and along the chambers. Emergency escape routes were also punched in major sidewalls. Traditionally, parliaments are made up of two distinct opposing sides who normally sit on opposite sides of the chamber. Such an arrangement is often associated with incessant squabbles and heated arguments in parliament. A horseshoe layout was implemented to foster cooperation between the two opposing sides. Benches were used in the older chambers to ensure close interaction of MPs. This however did not define personal space. The current arrangement has individual seats for NOVEMBER — DECEMBER 2012 Buildesign



Incorporating Hawkers in the City’s Design T

he council askari maintains the law as per the written/unwritten existing rules and regulations. Hawkers contribute to much of the dirt in the city streets; they crowd the pedestrian routes forcing people to squeeze with speeding vehicles. As if that was not enough, hawkers don’t pay rates, so they don’t in anyway contribute to the up keep of the streets. The askari views the street seller as a menace. In deed they are the important perpetrators of the noise, hustle and bustle, characteristic of Nairobi’s east-end streets, avenues and lanes. The askari’ job description includes maintaining law and order. This would mean that they need to get hawkers out of the streets. However we, the average consumers, need the hawkers’ goods and services. The ‘free enterprise’ individuals have hawk-eyes for opportunities. They parch themselves in places of greatest human confluence. Their customers are ordinary Kenyans on their way home. The customer has no time to bargain much. More often than not the customer is unlucky having fallen for an inferior product. The businesses flourish and blossom each new day because of the high traffic of visitors. More and more hawkers flock to the ‘market area’. With no serious check in place, sooner or later the thoroughfare becomes impassable. Subsequently it comes as a relief when the council askaris arrive

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with their (dirty) truck to whisk away the ‘garbage’. Unfortunately the solution of sweeping the streets clean of hawkers and, recently, the relocation of hawkers to a designated market area does not come as a lasting solution. It only ends up in the customer (who is supposed to be king) losing the convenient service, and the hawker losing a livelihood. Creating a common marketplace does not work either because the essence

Creating a common marketplace does not work either because the essence of ‘get-it-onthe-way’ is essentially downplayed. Building a permanent home for a nomad does him no good no matter how great the house. of ‘get-it-on-the-way’ is essentially downplayed. Building a permanent home for a nomad does him no good no matter how great the house. The life of the man on the move is complete when he gets to go from place to place to look for greener pastures. The only way to aid a street entrepreneur is to help him carry on his business under a set of rules and regulations. After all we cannot deny

two facts: the rule of law must be upheld and that many families survive on this trade. The first step towards healing is acceptance. To stop this hawking nag we must understand the trade, and then get a way around the phenomenon in order that it is done in a better manner. Making street markets legal will not only benefit the sellers and the buyer, but will also go a long way to enhance revenue collection hence benefit the council. An architectural design could provide the necessary schematic solution for the persistent spate. A city like Nairobi is desperately begging for practical measures, of a kind. Having the uniqueness of a third world country characterized with lots of informalities, our city needs to accept some of these informal activities by designing our planning around them as opposed to through them. One humble answer to the hawking question would be the utilization of important pedestrian routes, lanes, alleys, tunnels, footbridges, etc to serve as hawking zones. Well defined areas should be laid out to allow street businessmen and women to carry on with their enterprises. Footbridges over, and tunnels under busy highways could not only get pedestrians safely to the other side of the roads, but also provide small-time market venues. – George Arabbu: An architect practising in Nairobi


Rexe Roofing Products Launches Armourglass roofing Shingles R

exe Roofing Products Ltd in partnership with Iko Belgium, a global manufacturer of roofing materials, has launched a premier roofing product to the Kenyan market, Armourglass roofing Shingles. These roofing shingles are lightweight, glass fibre based rubber strips. Irene Wanjiku, Marketing Director at Rexe Roofing Products Ltd says that the product is easy to install and gives a highly decorative finish.

Below are some of the key features of armourglass roofing shingles:• Waterproofing qualities due to the presence of a glass fibre reinforcing mat coated

Irene Wanjiku, Marketing Director of Rexe Roofing Products Ltd at the launch. with asphalt which contains mineral fillers.

• A unique 10 years warranty system that offers full reimbursement provided that the shingles and their accessories are used as directed in the installation guidelines. • Technical features have been incorporated that have resulted in high wind and temperature resistance with no risk of blistering. • High quality guaranteed since manufacturing is dependent on raw materials that have been internally manufactured ensuring control in quality of product.

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Solutions to

Traffic Menace in Nairobi go beyond Road Construction T

he daily traffic menace in Nairobi results in massive losses in fuel, time and even productivity. If all these were quantified in monetary terms, the figures would be unimaginable. The construction of the Thika Superhighway was seen as the magic trick with which the traffic problems in Nairobi would be solved. Most of it is complete, yet there is nothing to write home about. The smooth rides people expected are yet to be experienced.

and research reports before. These documents have clearly detailed systems of infrastructure that could solve this menace. Road designs which cater for the pedestrian and cyclist have been proposed. Proposals to change transport systems are not new either. Many attempts have also been made at the same, including the Nyayo Bus Service, Kenya Bus Service, City Hoppa, Double M and even the RVR commuter train service.

Dealing with traffic congestion has numerous entry points that have been discussed in ‘first class’ theses

Architects and planners have also suggested a widened context from which attempts are made to solve the

24 Buildesign


transport issue. They have proposed concepts that cater for satellite urban centers like Burburu, Westlands, Karen, Ngong or even further to Thika, Naivasha and Athi River. They argue that if expansion energies are focused in such centres, people will be afforded an opportunity to work closer to their homes where they could even walk. The Nairobi City Council has not been left behind. Increases in parking fees have been done in recent times to discourage use of private cars. Several other attempts have been made at organizing the public transport system

OPINION problems compounded by our state that has abandoned all questions of critical infrastructure like housing, transport and communication to the hands of private entrepreneurs. A shift in mass transportation system could be desirable but not justifiable. Let’s face it; we only have congestion issues in the city at 8am and 5pm, and who doesn’t know why? Let me explain, we all head to and leave our places of work at the same time. Such a problem can surely be solved by a shifted work culture, say a change to 24 hour economy. The failure of the City Market as a 24hr market and the successes of Nakumatt Supermarket’s 24hr shopping concept have lessons we can learn if we are to stimulate this 24hr concept. Perhaps we need a change in the billing/ waging laws, so that people get paid weekly wages at hourly rates, so that it’s possible to have people work round the clock, thus creating the necessary demand and supply lines that will naturally compose a tertiary economy thriving around the core economy. With this in mind, we can then look at our capacity to build differentiated traffic flow systems that will accommodate the many ideas proposed to solve our congestion issues. in the CBD. The Nairobi Metropolitan Ministry also mentioned a new Nairobi Masterplan a few years back. This was meant to arrest the current erratic and perilous developments sprouting all over the city, contributing to the disorganization that causes traffic congestion. Although the ministry is quiet now, the mention could also be noted as an attempt to provide a solution. I have also thought of traffic congestion before, and with the suggestions, proposals and attempts at solving the traffic menace in mind, I have asked

myself, does Nairobi really have traffic problems? Is a shift in mass transit system really justifiable? Isn’t it ironic that some cities are rooting for the removal of mega scale flyovers while we are busy putting them up? The aspirations of Nairobians, their leaders and the relevant professionals in the sector are guided by the successes of western cities yet our capacities, resources, infrastructure and way of life underlie the realities we must face. Nairobi is simply a young, small, thirdworld micro city with ‘third world’

Many other possibilities can then be examined for instance, what possibilities are presented by formation of satellite centers? Is there a possibility that the CBD can be bypassed in the daily quest to commute from home to the office? Or thinking the other way, can the home be brought to the office? Can we have a total re-examination of the zoning policies to allow dwellings in the CBD proper? – Martin Tairo - An architect practising in Nairobi and Editor of Buildesign Magazine NOVEMBER — DECEMBER 2012 Buildesign



Can tripple bottom line be achieved in property development? W

e are experiencing one of this country’s most exciting, transformative times and it’s full of possibilities. This is the time for all of us to be figuring out what is my role, where do I fit in, what is there to gain or profit and who are the potential partners that share my goals? Professionals of the built environment have a special role in crafting and providing the edifices representing the culture, spirit and needs of its end users as well as those that will interact with it. In order to meet the aspiring goals of Vision 2030, Kenya’s built environment will have to rise. This presents great opportunities and challenges.

Partipacipants at a past KPDA dinner event. and appeal of development projects but make the desired growth on all scales unattainable.

It is not lost that most development will be done by private developers and their function is to make a profit. The question is then, what determines profit? How can the property development project reap a triple bottom line? This triple bottom line is achieved when there is a financial gain, a social gain and an environmental gain. Property development and investment has long been recognized as a secure and lucrative investment option. However, with there are real factors that influence the market – interest rates, land tenure, political strife and construction rates to name a few. The cleverer the industry becomes at advocating for policies and financial schemes in its favour, instituting innovative construction methods and forging productive partnerships. From job creation to creating place as community to rights adherence to providing security this industry plays a

26 Buildesign


How can the property development project reap a triple bottom line? This triple bottom line is achieved when there is a financial gain, a social gain and an environmental gain. critical role in the social advancement of the country. Any short cuts taken impede these and other life affirming factors that not only lessen the value

As an industry think beyond the obvious of our work and take into consideration the social inputs that can be added. Be challenged to engage with a wide range of stakeholders about projects. Development is inevitable but degradation is optional. We must figure this one out. With a high urbanization rate and devolution implementation development is ramped. We are encroaching on forested land, sensitive areas and areas of wildlife. The conflict between development and nature exist but like all conflicts it can be resolved to a common ground. Models of the attainment of this triple bottom line are to be heralded and pathways for achieving it are to be illuminated. As an industry we benefit most when we share our experiences and challenge one another. Robyn T. Emerson, CEO Kenya Property Developers Association


NOVEMBER — DECEMBER 2012 Buildesign



BUILDesign Magazine Launched T

he first issue of the BUILDesign magazine was launched during a press conference at The Stanley Hotel on Tuesday, 28th August 2012 to an audience composed of journalists from leading media houses in Kenya. Present during the launch were Dean School of Built Environment at Kenya Polytechnic University - Prof. Alfred Omenya, CEO Sterling Magazines Ltd - Silas Odiero and CEO Architecture Kenya Media Ltd - Martin Tairo. Speaking during the launch, Martin Tairo, who is also the editor of the magazine, said that the publication will bridge the information gap in the construction industry. “The public

and construction sector in general have for a long time been unaware of the set building regulations, policies and standards. The results have been grave and include loss of money and in some instances, loss of lives” he said. “Architecture has for long been portrayed in bad light by the media with terms like Goldenberg Architect, Anglo Leasing Architect and others being common. The media would also rush to interview AAK Chairman when buildings collapse. Important and positive aspects of our profession have been given snippets and back pages by the main stream media. We want to change this.” Prof. Omenya blamed the current state of

affairs in the construction sector to the involvement of non professionals in construction. He said, “Non professionals contribute to more than 60% of upcoming developments in urban areas. As a result, more buildings will continue to collapse as a result of poor execution.” He also blamed the regulatory authorities for the crisis saying they pay less attention to the environment. Silas Odiero, who is also BUILDesign’s Editorial Coordinator, said that they target an eventual circulation level of 10,000 in subsequent issues of the magazine which will be published bi monthly.

Below: From left; Prof. Alfred Omenya (Dean, School of Architecture - Kenya Polytechnic), Martin Tairo (Buildesign Editor) and Silas Odiero (Publisher, Buildesign) reading through the maiden issue of Buildesign magazine.

Above: A section of members of the press engaging the Buildesign team.

28 Buildesign


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Understanding Digital TV Broadcasts M

migration will be felt more by hotels. If each room has its own TV, it will require a receiver to abstract the digital signal. Then there is the central signal reception abstracting equipments which cost even more.

uch has been discussed in various forums about digital TV broadcasts. Digital TV broadcasts are here with us now. If you live in Nairobi and its environs you are probably receiving most of the channels already on offer by the various digital TV service providers. Digital TV broadcasts have increased the number of channels. From a single channel, you can stream up to 20 channels. Gone are the days when broadcasters would complain for lack of frequencies. With digital broadcasts, there is more frequency than can be taken by the broadcasters in the market right now. Picture clarity and versatility of the transmission have improved with the entry of digital TV. The quality of picture, especially if viewed on HD, is more superior. Digital TV enables users of hand held or portable devices access to TV channels in addition to features like program guides and radio channels. Despite the above merits, the current pricing for receiving digital TV is prohibitive. TVs with inbuilt receivers are expensive whereas the set top boxes are also highly priced. The set top boxes may not even be preferable in the hotel industry where pilferage of small items by guests is a big concern. Other than theft, the expense to be incurred for this

30 Buildesign


Any type of TV, even that popular old Great Wall, can be used to receive digital TV signal as long as it is accompanied by the appropriate set top box. Digital ready TVs need not use any receiver because they have an inbuilt digital receiver.

Digital TV enables users of hand held or portable devices access to TV channels in addition to features like program guides and radio channels. Despite the above merits, the current pricing for receiving digital TV is prohibitive.

However, users must exercise caution since almost 75% of all Digital ready TV sets were made for the European market. The European market uses chiefly DVBT broadcasts with MPEG 2 video encryption. Therefore, getting a TV with inbuilt DVBT2 receiver is not as easy as getting one with an inbuilt DVBT receiver. Kenya chose the DVBT2 format with MPEG4 picture encryption because it is sustainable in the future and will take long to exhaust. So care must always be exercised so as not to pick a TV that may not be useful even though it has an inbuilt receiver. The model of receiver does not matter as long as it is DVBT2. Chinese models are slightly cheaper compared to European models. Maybe what one should consider is what purpose they intend to use the receiver. For home use, any model will do. For commercial use or Hotel, try the European makes. Mumba Hinzano is the Technical Director of Electronic & Transmission Media Ltd


NOVEMBER — DECEMBER 2012 Buildesign



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Profile for BUILDesign Magazine

BUILDesign Magazine Issue 002  

Reviews of KCB Headquarters in Upper Hill and Parliament Buildings Features of Konza Technocity in Malili and a concept known as Symbiocity...

BUILDesign Magazine Issue 002  

Reviews of KCB Headquarters in Upper Hill and Parliament Buildings Features of Konza Technocity in Malili and a concept known as Symbiocity...