The Kenyatta International Conference Centre

The Kenyatta International Conference Centre

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An aerial view of the KICC Courtyard
An aerial view of the KICC Courtyard

The Kenyatta International Conference Centre has severally been in the news for the wrong reasons, be it a battle of ownership or sheer neglect that let to rot of unimaginable magnitude to accumulate within the building.

All this has however not drained the building its right status as an iconic building synonymous with the image of Kenya both locally and abroad.

When Tom Mboya called the Department of Architecture in the Ministry of Public Works, then headed by Chief Architect David Mutiso, his brief was simple and straight forward. KANU, the then ruling party, wanted a four storey building that would be its headquarters.

During meetings that were later held with the first president of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta, the architect noted that president Kenyatta had envisioned a landmark building that would epitomize self-governance and independence. He also wanted the builtform to capture the core of black civilization.

The site is a prime location within Nairobi’s CBD with prominent neighbours including City Hall and Holy Family Basilica to the North, Parliament and Jomo Kenyatta Masouleum to the West, AGs chambers, Office of the President and Foreign Affairs building to the South and Jogoo House and Nairobi Law Courts to the East.

The resultant building was a 28 storeytower, standing tall and proud, watching over Nairobi. The base of the tower is a podium which also holds the amphitheatre. This building is a breath taking landmark within the city of Nairobi.

Construction of the building commenced in 1967 and continued until completion in 1973. It was done in three phases with Phase I being the podium, Phase II the tower and Phase III being the plenary hall.

The spaces provided for include offices within the tower, an amphitheatre with a capacity of 800 which has been a popular venue for international meetings, a plenary hall that seats 4,000 people, and conference halls of different sizes.

Three basement parking levels have been provide in addition to an external parking area with a total capacity of 1,000 cars.

At the rooftop is a revolving restaurant which offers panoramic views of the city. The restaurant runs on a motor mechanism that makes a complete 360 degrees turn in 76 minutes.

The building is approached using scissor ramps and stairs. It has large outdoor landscaped areas with a sculpture of the founding father, light fixtures and large fountains.

One of the approaches to the main entrace of KICC which has scissor ramps
One of the approaches to the main entrance of KICC which has scissor ramps

At the core of the building, which is the centre of the tower, are services lifts, four passenger lifts, toilets and ducts for electrical and plumbing services.

A staircase, which can be accessed from the elevated ground floor, terminates at the helipad on the roof which receives small helicopters. The helipad also acts as a view point to the city, a popular spot for many local and foreign tourists looking for a good view of the city.

The façade of KICC has utilized an African texture, brown terracotta materials with a small motif defining the location of the windows.

The amphitheatre captures the traditional African pitched house. The general shape of the building is made of several platonic solid shapes that have been combined to give a notable outcome. Cuboids have been used for the plenary hall and podium, cylinder for office tower and cones for amphitheatre and helipad.

The Kenyatta International Conference Centre is a piece of architectural design that symbolizes democratic state of Kenya. The tower and amphitheatre are innovative pieces of work borrowed from traditional conical house of most cultures in Kenya.

The Kenyatta International Conference Centre is a unifying symbol for Kenyans.

The Kenyatta International Conference Centre, one of the buildings Architect David Mutiso worked on when he was Chief Architect at the Ministry of Public Works.
The Kenyatta International Conference Centre, one of the buildings Architect David Mutiso worked on when he was Chief Architect at the Ministry of Public Works.

Project Team:

Client: Kenya African National Union (KANU)

Architect: David Mutiso and Karl Henrik Nostivik

Civil/Structural Engineers: Coblegon Melvin & Partners

Mechanical Engineers: East African Engineering Consultants

Electrical Engineers: Ministry of Public Works

Contractor: Solel Boneh & Facta

15 COMMENTS

  1. […] The Kenyatta International Conference Centre, whose pink cylindrical shaft towers above Nairobi, was initiated by the country’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, as a lavish new HQ for his ruling Kanu party. At 32 stories, it was by far the tallest structure in east Africa until the 1990s, a big column for Kenya’s big-man chieftain. Yet its great size can be credited to an accident of international intervention. In the midst of its design, the World Bank decided it would host its 1973 annual meeting in Nairobi, and the building was chosen as the venue, forcing a growth spurt. The tower almost tripled in height, while a magnificent auditorium shaped like a closed lily-bud was also added, and mirrored by an open flower form at the top of the tower containing a revolving restaurant. […]

    • A very good description of this Nairobi landmark. An additional comment: the 110m-high core of the tower was raised in 1 month thanks to an innovative technique (“slip-form”) used for the first time in East Africa. The formwork for the reinforced concrete (“form”) was raised (“slip”) at a continuous rate of 0.15m/hour (day and night).
      I happened to be the night supervisor for this work with Facta Construction Co.

        • Jambo sana Bwana Okumu,
          The foundations are a combination of reinforced concrete piling and reinforced concrete slabs. The structural engineer was “Gordon Melvin & Partners” and the Quantity Surveyor was “Armstrong and Duncan”.
          It would be interesting to know if these two outfits still exist in Nairobi.
          I was technical director of Facta Construction Co.”, the contractor for stage 2 of the building.
          According to Google, this company still exists in Nairobi, but I think they operate in different fields.
          Regards,
          John Anderson, P.Eng., MS (Struct.)

          • Great information right there.I was searching for both architectural and historic information about KICC and there is very little on wikipedia.If you don’t mind consider updating the information on Wikipedia now that you have first hand factual information on KICC for the benefit of all.
            Thank you for your consideration.
            Regard
            Nossim.

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