Awakening Concepts, Powering Realities
An esteemed portfolio spanning Tanzania, Rwanda and Nigeria, Epitome Architects continues to spearhead innovative developments across the African continent
Writer: Jonathan Dyble
Project Manager: Eddie Clinton
A nation on the up, Tanzania is poised for continual prosperity throughout 2019 and beyond.
Statistics from the World Bank reveal that the country has sustained an average growth rate of between six and seven percent over the course of the past decade, resulting in dampened poverty and rising socioeconomic development.
One sector excelling in this climate is the nation’s construction industry. Having accounted for 7.8 percent of GDP in 2010 and more recently 13.6 percent in 2015, businesses in this sphere such as Epitome Architects Limited have continued to make substantial headway.
Formerly known as Lanplan-Icon Architects until 2011, Epitome has successfully served across multiple segments of the Tanzanian market as an architectural firm, providing esteemed design and construction monitoring services for education, commercial, residential, industrial, retail, transportation, business and healthcare developments, amongst others.
“We’ve become adept in providing a multitude of solutions, from architecture, interior architectural design, master planning, landscape architecture, contract administration and project management,” explains Architect David Kibebe, the company’s Director who is also a former Secretary General of East Africa Institute of Architects and currently The Honorary Secreatary of Architectural Association of Tanzania.
Having joined Epitome straight out of university in August 2005, Kibebe quickly rose through the ranks of the company, now having held partner status for a period of eight years.
“My heart was set on working in architecture after my brother mentioned a field of architecture to me when I was in high school,” he explains, “and I was especially interested in working in the private sector. Having secured a position with what was then Lanplan-Icon, I showed a willing to learn as I became a registered architect within two years, and the rest is history.”
Having been involved in a range of projects with the firm that is registered with the Architects & Quantity Surveyors Registration Board and the Royal Institute of British Architects, Kibebe has played a crucial role in aiding the meteoric rise during the past 14 years.
An empowered portfolio
This rise is largely owed to the completion of numerous transformative projects across Tanzania, Rwanda and Nigeria.
Asked which one of these particularly stands out to him, Kibebe replies: “Our TANHOUSE development in Dar es Salaam is one that we’re all very much proud of.”
Situated along the Ali Hassan Mwinyi Road, the building is iconic for the region with its innovative design, offering attractive, open-plan offices to a number of resident companies.
“A key request of our client on this project was a unique design that would fundamentally change the surrounding cityscape,” Kibebe reveals. “This in mind, we worked closely with our client to understand requirements and ideas allow our innovation to take place and come up with a design that achieved these demands.”
A fresh and visually stimulating project, the TANHOUSE has served to provide Epitome Architects with new contracts, with other clients having contacted as a result of the successes of this development.
“We’re proud of the end-to-end service we were able to provide here – I feel it’s a living embodiment of our emphasis on service excellence,” continues Kibebe.
Alongside the laboratory renovation project, the government regional hospitals diagnostic laboratory upgrade is another that springs to mind for the Director as a truly meaningful development.
“This was financed by philanthropic foundation Abbott Fund who worked together with the Ministry of Health of Tanzania, identifying that the condition of regional hospital labs was sub-par,” explains Kibebe. “As a result, Abbott planned to upgrade such facilities across the country, and we were brought on board as the architectural presence.”
Working alongside US-based lab design specialist Design4All in delivering the project, the completed works have since helped improve the quality of care for millions of people, with the labs providing support to district hospitals.
“Seeing how people are now able to get the diagnosis and treatments they need in a faster and more accurate manner is really a great feeling,” Kibebe adds.
This sense of care is imbedded into the core of the business, reflected in a multitude of Epitome’s social responsibility initiatives that include its internally funded and managed orphanage.
“This orphanage has the sole purpose of helping to change fortunes for children in need,” explains Kibebe. “It’s something that’s close to our hearts. We believe its part of our duty to give back to communities in such ways.”
This outlook is further evident in the company’s accentuation of the importance of training, providing both existing students and graduates with opportunities to gain industry experience and real-life insights into architectural practices.
“We’ve recently been limited on this due to the government’s emphasis on providing most public sector jobs to public sector institutions,” explains Kibebe. “There are fewer projects for us to train students in field works as per curriculum requirements and we’ve seen that they are increasingly struggling to get field works positions and jobs in the private sector as a result.
“However, despite these challenges it’s still a big part of our culture to ensure we provide business opportunities to young people.”
Such challenges aside, 2019 is still set to be an exciting year for Epitome.
Sailing in the economic tailwinds, the company has recently secured a new and exciting contract commissioned by India-based firm Hester Biosciences Africa Limited. A proposed animal vaccine facility in the Kibaha Cost region in Tanzania, the project will be a new endeavour for the architectural company.
“It’s a specialised facility,” explains Kibebe, “which will provide a new test for us.
“Coming on board as the project consultant and architect, we will be tasked with not only matching but exceeding the capabilities of Hester Biosciences’ factories in Nepal, India and elsewhere – a task that we will really relish between now and delivery in 2020.”
Moreover, in tandem with these ever-growing local ambitions, a key focus for Epitome over the coming months will be bolstering its international presence, aspirations that will serve to provide the company with a greater growth platform and a wider regional scope.
“We’ve already been working in Rwanda and Nigeria, and we’re now also registered to do business in South Sudan,” Kibebe comments, “and it’s these alternate markets, amongst others, that will captivate much of our attention moving forward.”