Commercial architecture by Kenyan architects has been on the rise in recent times, and is especially evidenced by the rapid development of offices and similar commercial developments in the cities of Kenya. It has been so vibrant that many developers have been interested in creating commercial architecture that is international in outlook, often choosing to select architects from developed nations to come and design buildings much like what they have in their countries.
Commercial architecture by Kenyan Architects calls for their involvement throughout
While this has had its impact in terms of the kind of buildings that have been undertaken in recent times, there are definite issues that one can pick out in those buildings that have been done by foreign architects, without much involvement of local architects apart from catering for statutory approvals by local authorities.
In my view, while a lot of these buildings are very well resolved both in terms of technical and general functional issues, the ‘soul’ of the building is often lost, failing to connect with the fabric of the society it is being built in. The resultant is a building that may look quite space age, yet does not respond to the culture and fabric of the society in which it has been built in.
The aspirations of a society are often captured within its particular built environment. It is a society’s aspirations to attain particular economic status and lofty aspirations of grandeur and recognition that drive them to create major architectural edifices. It is in the process of attaining societal goals that great commercial architecture is often constructed.
Commercial architecture by Kenyan architects needs to have a strong sense of place
The soul of a building is that sense of place that is created through the use of architectural principles that allow a building to have a distinctive character and identity. An iconic building will always evoke characteristic images that are drawn from its context. It definitely takes a lot of study for the designer of a building to properly interpret its context and thereafter develop a design that sits well with this context. At the same time, the design needs to respond to the culture of the place wherein it is situated, and reflect the culture of the people.
This development of the soul of a built environment is best undertaken through the involvement of the local architect (in this case the kenyan architect) right from the conceptualization of the building, rather than later. It is the local architect who is in a good place to interpret the requirements of a scheme and connect them with the unique characteristics of the particular site.
The need to give a commercial development its definite feel that is totally unique, shaped by the forces and constraints of a site must be adhered to in the preparation of a design. The design of the commercial facility requires to have an active sense of belonging to a place, rather than just being a commercial building that could be placed simply anywhere.
Looking at some of our commercial malls in the region, there are a few which have managed to create a good sense of place within their context. Such shopping malls are very powerful areas of interaction between people and their environment. In addition, owners have the potential of making a great branding statement for their real estate investment simply by hyping the special characteristics of a given property especially its unique character.
When discussing commercial architecture by Kenyan architects, the ability for a design concept for a property being turned into a major branding statement or concept is a big plus in the real estate development. The branding concept for such a development is a natural offshoot of the environment or locality within which it is being created.
Commercial architecture by Kenyan architects is a great opportunity for business branding
A great example can be found in the life of several well known commercial developments in Nairobi. The Village Market was designed and developed within a previously peri urban area, with plenty of lush vegetation having an almost rural character. The name that it took became a wonderful expression of the context in which the commercial development was created, an apt representation of its place.
Another example in this regard may be observed in the case of The Junction Mall at Dagoretti Corner in Nairobi. This mall was created on property that was adjacent to a busy junction on a major artery within the city. The defining feature of the property is the presence of
The creation of commercial architecture by Kenyan architects offers developers a genuine opportunity to create a truly befitting contribution to the built environment.