Architects tipped on sector success amid competition

Architect Veronica Munyao (left), Lecturer Francis Kere (centre) and George Arabbu during Bamburi Cement breakfast talk. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) has called on professionals in the field to be aggressive in marketing themselves to promote professionalism in the built environment.

This is amid growing concern that the professionals are increasingly being overshadowed by quacks, leading to a crisis of poorly designed buildings and structures.

AAK Chapters Chairperson George Arabbu said statistics show as much as 80 per cent of the building projects across the country are being undertaken without involving relevant consultants, and as much as 80 per cent of the architects’ work goes unpaid when it is not properly packaged.

Mr Arabbu spoke during the inaugural AAK-Duracoat Awards of Excellence in Architecture held in Nairobi last week. “The idea of business is something we are trying to push them to embrace. And events such as these awards provide them with an opportunity to sell themselves by sharing what they have in their black boxes,” he said.

The plans submitted for the awards were evaluated on sustainability, innovation, cultural, exterior and interior environments as well as student categories.

More than 15 architects were recognised for idyllic project designs of Mwai Kibaki Convention Centre, Kwanari Eco-Lodge, Mars Wrigley Factory, the Maasai Mara Leopard Hill Resort, Ulwazi Place, Countryside Villa and the Alba Hotel in Meru.

Two students got honorary mentions for submitting designs for a proposed eco-lodge project and Trans Nzoia County Assembly.

Architect Njuguna Mugwima, who heads the Centre for Urban Studies at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, said competitions such as the awards provide architects with a suitable platform for them to move the standards of the profession a notch higher.

“These awards is to afford the professionals space for criticism and when something is criticised, it means there is room for improvement especially when a fault is found,” he said. “The idea here is to move the field of architecture forward.”