The competitive edge in terms of gaining better occupancy rates and sales is design.
The design of such a building should be unique and should serve its occupants well in terms of space needs.

Buildings around Upper Hill and Westlands that enjoy high rates all have one thing in common-the architectural design is well-thought-out. This helps in making the building a status-symbol and at the same time the building becomes a land-mark that people can identify with.

Very few buildings in Westlands can fall in this category of unique. Such buildings are mainly found in Upper Hill such as Geminia Insurance building, Coca Cola Headquarters, Old Mutual and Oxford University press building.

These are buildings that leave a lasting impression in that they do not look like any other buildings anywhere else in the world.


In Countries such as South Africa and Australia where Architectural design is given the weight and importance it deserves, most high rise buildings are works of art to be admired.

In these countries, architectural designs are usually awarded through competition whereby all architects are invited to give in their design proposals then the best designs are awarded the full design works.
In Kenya, most of the private sector architectural design contracts are awarded through pre-qualification methods where the most important criteria is the previous works done/experience and other legal paper work such as bank statements.


Architectural creativity is not given the weight it deserves yet this is the single most important element in ensuring the project developers get the highest returns in terms of occupancy rates.
In other developed countries, such projects usually have 2 sets of architects:
1. Design architects
2. 2. Construction supervision architects.
This ensures that even if the winning design is from an architectural firm with less experience, the construction supervision architects will bring in their experience to ensure that the project is completed within the timelines.

This way, creativity is harnessed while at the same time, experience is also taken into consideration. Creativity is not something that can be easily improved like construction supervision experience. A fresh architectural graduate could come up with very creative designs which even an architect with over 50 years experience will not be able to come up with.


To achieve design master pieces such as Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Kenyans should embrace creativity in terms of encouraging architectural design competitions. The Architectural Association of Kenya should also spearhead in this by popularizing architectural design competition frameworks in the hope that all developers from individual residential house developers to corporate and Government agencies will find it more profitable to use competition as the main method of hiring architects.

Francis Gichuhi Kamau


Francis Gichuhi (692 Posts)

Architect Francis Gichuhi . B.Arch. University of Nairobi. Registered Architect, Kenya. Member, Architectural Association of Kenya. Contacts. email Telephone +254721410684



  1. September 15, 2011 at 8:31 am

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