The Kenyan architect follows a generally standardized process of undertaking a project, especially when building in Kenya.  As each profession is governed by a code of practice that defines how things should be done in it, so it is with the profession of architecture in Kenya. This article delves into the stages that one is expected to encounter in the process of engaging an architect to carry out projects on their behalf, especially in the design phase of a project.

The Kenyan Architect – Process of Design

modern office design by Kenyan architect

office block design

One may wonder what the genesis of these rules of architectural practice may have been. A lot of practice ethics embraced by Kenyan architects have been passed down from the colonial period, where the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) governed architects. The architectural profession grew stronger in the nation and by independence, there was established a strong corporate body that governed the practice of architecture in Kenya.

Architectural practice for Kenyan architects is governed by legal statutes that have been ordained by Acts of Parliament. The Architects and Quantity Surveyors Act cap 525 stipulates various matters regarding architectural profession, including payment of professional fees. This Act also stipulates what aspects of work is carried out under normal services and which are additional services. The following is a synopsis of what happens in the various stages as listed in cap 525.

Each stage of design and supervision of construction forms the basis of payment of professional fees. As each stage is completed, a client who has engaged the Kenyan architect is responsible to sign off the work of each consultant and this becomes the benchmark of work done so far.



            a)         Advising on Site Selection
  • Inspections, evaluations, comparative studies detailed study negotiations and reports to the Client. The detailed study may include topographic and sub-surface conditions, utilities, zoning and land use requirements, parking and traffic flow regulations, title restrictions, existing or proposed easements, public relations evaluation.
  • Analysis of site to allow optimum use, including review of existing conditions, services, if any, planning requirements to establish facility locations, site improvements, landscape.
  • Studies of requirements on-site and off-site, which may include electrical service and distribution, sewer and stormwater collection, drainage, water supply and distribution, fire control and alarm, emergency lighting, security protection, air-conditioning, pollution control, site illumination, telephone.
  • Determination of conformity with planning zones, preparation of material for and consultation with authorities, applications for approvals, re-zoning, attending appeals.
  • Technical appraisal, user study, planning and design study, statutory authority, financial study, reports, time tables, contract procedures.
  • Organize for investigations of surface and sub-soil conditions to determine the nature of the material, characteristics, bearing capacity, water table, ease of excavation.
  • Assessment of area requirements and functional relationships for the design brief, including consideration of client’s resources, technical requirements, physical requirements, site limitations, future facilities and requirements and setting the initial programme.
  • Preparation of brief and/or assistance in preparation of client’s detailed brief.
  • Preparation of drawings, reports, estimates and consultations.
  • Advising on appropriate means of procuring buildings and on types of building contracts available.
  • Advising on appropriate means of procuring plant and equipment and studying compatibility of the same.
  • Research, correspondence, discussion, management in providing predesign services.
  • Preparation of schematic design, illustrated by scheme drawings and/or reports, and provision of indicative estimates of cost.
  • Preparation of design development, including appropriate developed sketch drawings, reports, advice on preliminary designs of engineering and other specialist  services and provision of time program and estimates of cost. Submission of drawings to Statutory Authorities may form part of the work at this stage.
  • Preparation of detailed drawings to clearly illustrate construction details including the preparation of schedules for materials and finishes.
  • Calling and Reporting on Tenders
  • Calling of tenders in conjunction with or on behalf of the client and answering tenderers’ queries.
  • Analysis and advice in respect of tenders received.
  • Negotiation, preparation of documents and arrangements for execution of contract.
  • Additional services (where there is no Quantity Surveyor) may include preparation of documents for and calling of alternative tenders and/or administration of special tendering procedures.
  • Research, correspondence, discussion and management in providing design services.
            b)         Site Use Studies
            c)         Studies of Services
            d)         Zoning Analysis and Authorities Consultations
            e)         Finance and Feasibility Studies and Reports
            f)          Soil Investigations
            g)         Project Programming and Analysis
            h)         Preparation of Brief
            i)          Submissions for grants, subsidy and Fund Raising
            j)          Building Procurement Advice
            k)         Equipment and Plant Procurement Advice
            l)          Administrative Services


            a)         Schematic Design
            b)         Design Development Stage
            c)         Detailed Design Stage
            d)         Tender Action
            e)         Additional Services


It is important to note that not all projects are the same, and there are different expectations that may accompany a given project. The actual work carried out by a particular commission may vary slightly.  These stages give a general expectation of the kind of work that the Kenyan architect may carry out in the process of their commission.