The Nation Centre – Nairobi

The Nation Centre – Nairobi

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  • Client: Industrial Promotion Building Ltd
  • Architects: Planning Systems Services Ltd & Henning Larsen Tegnestue
  • Structural Engineers: Ramzan Boga
  • Mechanical & Electrical Engineers: Bikroconsult Ltd
  • Quantity Surveyors: Davson and Ward
  • Covered Area: 14,400 square metres
The nation Centre Building - Image coutersy of skyscrapercity.com
The nation Centre Building – Image coutersy of skyscrapercity.com

The client wanted to have a landmark building in Nairobi which would be of mixed use, consisting of offices and shops. The building was intended to build bridges between the newspaper and the people. The client thus sought a contemporary classic architectural statement that would provide this all important link between the institution and the city.

Some of the most critical issues that were considered as the brief was refined included economic and maintenance issues, and the constraints that were to be encountered during importation of materials and equipments. The local climate did not pose a greater challenge as its demands on environmental control on buildings is low.

The site is located along Kimathi Street at the heart of Nairobi and is facing Banda Street which intersects Kimathi Street at an angle. The architect grabbed this opportunity to create a ‘reception’ at the intersection point by gently curving the façade of the building to create a plaza. This has become a focal point along the street and a very popular meeting point for many people.

The form of the building consists of a tall colonnade at street level with a podium of ten floors topped by two cylindrical towers of another seven floors. A major feature of the building is a tall aerial which is visible all over the Nairobi skyline. The aerial sits on the entrance canopy.

The form is emphasized by white and green stripes. Within the white stripes on the podium floors are the horizontal concrete louvers with their openable windows behind. On the cylindrical towers, this is revised and windows are set on the green stripes.

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The rear of the building faces a service lane and its façade is essentially flat except for the articulation of a curved first floor auditorium and a rounded top floor of the podium. The building faces North East and South West and is flanked by buildings on either side.

In plan, the building has a central core containing all the integrated systems; lobbies, lifts, staircases, service risers, etc while the rest of the floor area is open plan space.

The interior design and art decoration are very elaborate and integral to the building. The main entrance is visible from afar and is emphasized by a vaulted canopy projecting from the lobby into the plaza.

The elegant floor patterns in checkered marble and terrazzo give each area a distinct character.

Inside the double height lobby, two fountains each placed in a niche along the sides, accentuate the entry. There are also two atria which are both circulation and design features. The atria appear as bright white walled pavilions with a blue background each with a fountain and spiral staircase.

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A series of interesting features are offered on the towers above the podium floors. There are openings to a landscaped roof garden which is ensured privacy by an enclosed perforated wall. The towers are linked at various levels by glass conservatories.

The architects have designed a work that stands as an attempt to reflect an East African city, a meeting point of African, Arab and Indian cultures. It is an appropriate expression of modernity.

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