Seventy years later, Architect Patrick Edward Kanyue is not the typical retired professional who is often too oblivious of the trends and dynamics in the industry. Instead, Patrick is the savvy and seasoned practitioner who is very shy about publicity but has vast experience in government administration having served in top positions in the Ministry of Works for over 15 years.
He has worked closely with the first president of Kenya, the late Jomo Kenyatta and consequently, the retired and second president of the republic, Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi during his four year tenure as the acting Chief Architect. Since his days in Civil Service to date, Patrick has fearlessly stood his solid ground to condemn the corrupt system within the industry which has crippled a very sacred profession whose role should solely concern design of the spaces in which people live and not the money making scheme that it has turned to. He has neither hesitated to walk away from situations that would otherwise compromise his integrity.
Coming from a very humble background in Embu County and pushing through all odds to rise to top professional ranks in the industry, Patrick understands firsthand how challenging it is for other professionals, especially the young ones who are trying to grow their career in a saturated economy without ‘proper connections’ as was his case back in the day. Efficient systems and industry welfare have hence become two of his very close concerns in architectural practice. “Projects from the Government and the way work is shared among professionals is unfair!” he asserts.
“Introduction of international bidding procedures on fees such as the World Bank and others have subjected the local professional to situations of legal conflict with the local Acts of Parliament specifically where fees is concerned. The Local Act of Parliament that governs the work of an Architect including remuneration is Cap 525 Laws of Kenya which prohibits bidding but permits design competition. Design competition is not to be compared to ‘tendering’. Design Competition is a procedure recognized by the Public Procurement Oversight Authority (PPOA) and permits clients to select the best designs where they have no confidence with their choice of an Architect. Bidding on fees on the other hand is akin to hawking for professional services! Competition on design is not’ and those in charge of enforcing PPOA regulations have missed the point. Kanyue clarifies right before sharing his story.
“I grew up in Mukangu Sub-location of Embu County and attended three primary schools due to the Emergency disturbances in 1954. One evening, I came home from school only to find that my parents had packed their belongings to move to Kathangari concentration camp as ordered by the Colonial Government. It is at the Camp where I attended Gituri primary school and sat for the Common Entrance Examination (CEE) qualifying me to move from Class 4 to Class 5. I joined St. Michael’s boarding School, Kevote for the upper primary level from Std 5 where I also sat for the Kenya African Preliminary Examination (KAPE) in 1960.” Patrick narrates.
In 1961, he was admitted to a missionary secondary school, St. Paul’s high school – Kevote in Embu for his O’ levels and sat for the Cambridge School Certificate exams set by the University of Cambridge in 1964. A naturally gifted artist, Patrick wanted to pursue fine arts since it was the only artistic course he was familiar with. But that changed when he learnt of a new course called Architecture. “I was walking into the school library one day when I noticed the University of East Africa (now University of Nairobi) calendar listing the available courses in the faculty of Architecture, Design and Development. The list included architecture, fine arts and studio works. I had an idea of what fine arts and studio works involved but Architecture was a new term to me.” Patrick remembers, “I became curious and went to the principal, an Italian Catholic priest, the late Fr.Geussepe Bertaina to inquire further about the course.” Although the principal did not have a clear explanation, he did mention that Architecture involved construction of buildings. He offered to make an application at the University to inquire whether Patrick would be eligible for the course.
Six months after the application, they received two letters from the University of East Africa confirming that Patrick had been selected for both Fine Arts and Architecture. At the time, he had just got a banking job as a clerk at Barclays bank. An O’ level graduate making a good salary in a banking job (precisely Kshs. 600 in 1965), Patrick had a hard time deciding whether to quit the job and join the University or not to.
After two months, he resolved to quit the job and pursue his studies, joining the University in September 1965. His savings could only help raise pocket money for the first year “I had to find sponsorship to finance my education,” Patrick says. “Towards the end of 1965, a classmate in campus introduced me to the then Chief Architect, David Mutiso for a possible sponsorship. Architect Mutiso said to me, ‘Patrick, I would like to pay your school fees only on one condition; you have to pass your final exams for first year.’ I sat for my first year exams and passed well and so I went back to Mutiso in 1966 with my results. He used to sit at Harambee House where the Ministry of Works was based. He asked me to sign a Contract of Apprenticeship such that the Ministry of Works
would pay for my tuition fees and I would work as a Civil Servant, and from my salary, I would pay for my boarding fees and other livelihood charges.” Patrick explains.
Civil Service to Private Practice
The Ministry of Works awarded Kanyue the sponsorship in the year 1967, courtesy of Arch David Mutiso. And so Kanyue worked in the Ministry of Works during all long vacations throughout his University Education until he graduated in 1971. The first year after graduating, Kanyue was attached to a building contractor, Solel Boneh International for his practical training.
At Solel Boneh, Kanyue was involved in the supervision of Construction of Pumwani Highrise Housing Redevelopment (nicknamed ‘California’ in East leigh, Nairobi). “I was fascinated by the 4 storey housing structures and intrigued by the firm’s organization skills; with only four foremen supervising over 40 blocks of flats, the Israeli contractor used several teams of local sub-contractors in the huge project without compromising quality.
Upon completion of his practical training, Kanyue went back to the University for another two years after which he graduated with an honors degree in Bachelor of Architecture. This was in 1971. He then went back to the Ministry of Works where he was promoted to Assistant Architect in charge of Education Buildings. At the time, design of all Government Development projects in all the Ministries was done by the Ministry of Works.
Three years later, Kanyue was promoted to Architect following registration by BORAQS in 1974 and the following year to Superintending Architect in charge of planning all educational institutions in the Republic for the Ministry of Education. In 1979, Kanyue was further promoted to Chief Superintending Architect, one of the posts of the deputies of the Chief Architect. The Chief Architect at that time was the late Arch Joel E.D. Nyaseme who had served in the Ministry for only one year. He was the 3rd Chief Architect after Arch David Mutiso. In 1980, Nyaseme resigned from the position of Chief Architect after which Kanyue took over as the Acting Chief Architect. He served in this position for 4 years after which he was transferred to the Ministry of Education as a Deputy Secretary in charge of planning and design of schools in 1985. Kanyue considered this a demotion and resigned in 1986 to establish his private practice, Kanyue & Partners Architects.
His first client was Embu District Co-operative Union in Runyenjes leading to more cooperatives creating interest in his work including Chuka Cooperative Society, Meru North Sacco in Maua and Chogoria Boys High school among others. Other of Patrick’s prestigious projects overtime include Diana Centre in Nyeri, St. Nicholas School in Nairobi, Cylet Plaza in Embu, Geomaps Centre in Upperhill, Nina Apartments in Hurlingham, Solo Villas in Lavington Green, Bima Court apartments in Kileleshwa and Friend’s Court Apartments in Bellevue, South C among others.
In the recent past, Patrick has done several projects for the Ministry of Agriculture mainly IFAD funded Horticultural markets across the Counties. He is currently handling several Judiciary projects comprising of Chuka High Court, Kigumo Law Court, Engineer Law Court in Meru, Muranga and Nyandarua Counties respectively. He is also the Project Architect for KENGEN offices in Kamburu dam which is an ongoing project.
“I’m very passionate about sustainability. I try my best to be sensitive to the environmental impact of a building through detailing, maintenance and ventilation. I’m concerned with the functions of a space and the needs of the users and their reaction when in use. My philosophy is to do a good thing. Do it well and perfectly, and give the client the best results. GeoMaps Centre for instance, a twelve storey building which is self-ventilating. The glass is double glazed with thermal curtain wall in a round form chute that allows free flow of air in and out of the building. This is what architects today refer to as Green Architecture. I was taught that in the tropics, one should only introduce mechanical ventilation as an absolute necessity.
I’m therefore very sensitive to orientation. You can play around with form to avoid solar radiation by simply getting the large façades and openings facing North or South. When it comes to maintenance, I avoid external painting of buildings as much as I can. I either use natural stone, bricks, river pebbles or mazeras slabs for cladding exterior facades.” Kanyue says. He continues, “I’m very keen on detailing the exterior facades.”
Upon retirement, Patrick plans to develop a Tourist Resort in his 4 acre land in Embu Municipality alongside his residential home. The complex will include a conference facility, cottages, a high class Hotel, a recreational center for children and other social activities with entertainment.
For the firm, Kanyue & Partners, Patrick hopes to groom one of his Associates as a Successor. “I’m also passionate about low-cost rural architecture. If I had more resources, I’d direct them to more efficient systems that involve not just housing projects but also schools and health centres for the rural areas. There is a lot of concentration in urban architecture and planning unlike in the rural areas where local communities have mostly been left on their own to resolve Architectural problems in building of schools and other community facilities.”
Kanyue is a father of three (two sons and a daughter), a husband to one great wife; a retired nurse and a farmer of mushrooms and Rhodes Grass and who has been very supportive of his architectural endeavors.
Arch. Kanyue is also a grandfather to four. When he is not practicing, Patrick spends his free time with his family. He especially enjoys playing with his grandchildren and playing guitar which is his favorite hobby. At his University hey days, he produced and sold music records and had television shows.
“Our own associations, AAK & BORAQS need to be more serious with the welfare of its members by defending Cap 525 from getting watered down through International and Bilateral agreements with the Government. This will facilitate a better system to get young professionals trained and qualified more efficiently. The Board should stop being a government vehicle,” he concludes.