Designed in 1987 for the Government of Australia, this building, on Riverside Drive, Nairobi exists entirely as a result of the efforts of PLANNING and the Quantity Surveyors D G Jones. Knowing that the High Commission wished to move out of the City Centre, the two practices identified the Riverside Drive site, introduced the landowners to the High Commission, and negotiated the construction finance.
The major theme of the design features treated eucalyptus poles as external columns interspersed with large glass panels, overlooking the well treed site. Eucalyptus, indigenous to Australia and imported into East Africa in the late 1890's for fuel wood, have grown magnificently in Kenya since then and have become a major part of the city landscape, being used throughout East Africa for power and telephone cable poles.
The Government of Kenya and the Kenya Tourism Board through the Kenya Ports Authority wished to encourage passenger cruise liners to use the Port of Mombasa as a tourist destination, where currently there are no facilities at all. The location selected was excellent because:-
It has an existing and adequately engineered quay
The historic Uganda Railways and Harbors railway track terminated here and could be restored
This location was also considered ideal for the proposed cruise liner passenger control tower (now completed and in operation)
The disadvantages appeared to be:
A shallow harbor in need of deepening
Lack of funding
Increasing threats to ships at sea, from Somali pirates
PLANNING visited the site to inspect and survey existing facilities and was delighted to find the existing historic (abandoned) cotton storage sheds in remarkably good condition. A strategy to adapt these sheds quickly evolved with modifications at roof level to allow in natural light, and to install wind scoops for natural ventilation.
The structure and plan form of the sheds was found to be ideal for their new purposes, with some simple modifications. The other competitors (all international) chose to demolish the sheds and start again. PLANNING’s proposals, therefore, stood out as being financially attractive and quicker to complete.
The KPA was especially attracted by PLANNING’s refurbishment proposals where many of the existing finishes would be reused and where new modern materials would be selected and used, to considerable practical and visual effect, but only where absolutely necessary.
The project was however put on hold by KPA because of the increasing Somali pirate menace and because of the need to deepen the harbour area.