Designed in 1989 to be Lonrho Africa’s Headquarters.

The brief proved to be a challenge; to design a modern commercial high-rise that must show a minimum of 14% return on capital. The building had to be constructed over and through an existing, badly built, three-floor building occupied by sitting tenants who could not be legally evicted, and their day-to-day business had to continue.

Four of Nairobi’s leading architectural practices were approached, and all declined as each considered the brief to be impossible. However, PLANNING, in collaboration with the Structural Engineer I.B. Patel, saw potential in the project, and the Lonrho Africa Building now stands as evidence of their successful approach. PLANNING requested 10 days to explore the options and thoroughly think it through.

This fully air-conditioned building ranks technically as the most complex development ever attempted in East Africa, and possibly in Africa. Despite the challenges, the final design was completed on budget, and the building achieved a remarkable 17% return on capital in the first years of operation. To optimize space, cars are parked above the existing building since basement parking was not an option. The car park floors are clear spans from Standard Street to Kaunda Street, with no columns between, allowing for a more efficient and spacious layout.