There is great beauty in the vernacular architecture in Kenya that you will find especially amongst the various ethnic groups around the nation. There are lots of relevant details that any architect can be able to find and utilise on their own design work, and borrow relevant design concepts that you can integrate into your building project. Beautiful architecture has been passed down through the ages from the communities that have lived in the area, with touches from islamic architecture being intermingled with ethnic modes of building that were popular within the area.

Creating beautiful architecture in Kenya using vernacular building elements

Building your building with elements borrowed from vernacular building types is one thing that a developer interested in doing great architecture can do. With a bit of ingenuity and a willingness to push the boundaries with regard to architecture design and interiors, a great building can be achieved. Years of use of particular building materials in a certain region has allowed local craftsmen to develop great skill and knowledge in the use of materials,and building techniques that you would often find within a particular location.

eco cottages by Kenya architect, kenyan architectureThe materials that have been developed in use in a particular region over time is something that is of great importance in the sustainable design agenda. They have been proven in their durability and functionality on building types incident to the area over decades of use, and their history shows how they outperform other materials that may not belong.

For example, you may wonder why so many resorts in the coastal region make use of thatch or dried straw roofing on their buildings. One reason is due to the fact that roofs made using this kind of material offers great heat insulation, meaning that they are able to withstand the high diurnal ranges that one may expect especially in the coastal region. Secondly they are readily available, being fashioned from dried fronds of palm and coconut trees that have shed their leaves to fall on the ground. Local grasses also offer a good enough material to be bound into thatch bundles once they are sufficiently dry.

Using thermal construction to create sustainable architecture in Kenya

eco cottages designed by Kenyan architect, kenyan architectureAnother interesting observation is with regards to the type of walling that you would find along external walls of buildings especially in coastal regions. From days of old, the influences of islamic architecture during that time caused builders to use thermal walls as one way of dealing with the warm climate that you expect to see within the areas coastal cities were built. This means that buildings done in coastal cities would adopt mass walling with a thickness of even one foot depth or more made of lime mortar that would provide adequate insulation to the interiors against the hot sun in the coastal areas.
The walls were arranged in different thicknesses as they progressed deeper into the house, ensuring that the rooms near the external areas of the house received less heat in their interiors through employing walls of great thermal mass which had lower conductivity into the house. In addition, the walls had small window openings that allowed minimal heat gains inside the houses. The use of thermal walls in this way ensured comfortable interiors within these coastal homes.
Such thermal walls still can be harnessed in modern buildings through the use of wall materials that offer this kind of insulation in the construction of masonry walls. Use of quarry stone offers a good level of insulation of the interior of a building space.
Interior walls may not require the same level of heat insulation as would the external walling. However, the use of interior walling that has simple structural integrity and offers a good deal of visual and audible privacy is what counts in vernacular architecture, as would be expected in mainstream contemporary architecture.
The use of small windows on the facades of these homes means that they allow in less daylight and less heat. As a result, in as much as spaces seem more enclosed or claustrophobic, you would find that they enjoy pretty good internal temperatures as compared to external temperatures.

Architecture in Kenya can be enhanced through good open spaces around the house

Perhaps one of the simpler stylistic device often used in older vernacular architecture in the coastal region has to do with enjoying external spaces. Many dwellings were often created with outdoor lofts and porches with which the owners of homes would enjoy sitting on verandas to their houses and enjoying leisurely banters amidst enjoying a cup of tea. Courtyards were created deep in the interior of a home to allow men and especially women to enjoy protected internal space. At the same time, men sat outside on the entrance terraces to their homes to enjoy relating with their fellow men along the street front. The idea behind this is simply to allow areas of socialisation and relaxation along the outside of a building.

In contemporary architecture today, this stylistic device can be replicated through the use of roof gardens along flat roofs. Roof gardens properly done allow a home to enjoy a garden at the top of their home, which is a huge advantage for having areas to relax while making use of the natural roof covering of a home. Properly done, it offers good insulation to internal rooms below it which will enjoy the covering of a roof covering that does not let in unnecessary heat.