Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK)

Spotlight on Architecture in Kenya

Feeding an expanding construction sector with innovation and sustainable development 

Writer: Phoebe Harper  |  Project Manager: Alfie Wilson
 
 
Kenya’s built environment is shaped by a host of architectural firms across the country, who envision the ideas that contractors and construction specialists bring to life. 
 
The country’s construction industry is a thriving sector, and one of the few that actually witnessed an expansion during the course of 2020. According to a report by Business Wire, this expansion is only set to continue throughout 2022 to 2025 as Kenya’s infrastructure undergoes rapid growth and development.
 
Such projects in the built environment pertain to commercial, residential and infrastructural developments in the public realm, as seen with the upcoming construction plans for the new Central Railway Station in Nairobi. Architects will continue to be at the backbone of this ongoing demand.
 
As with architecture across the globe, buildings are increasingly incorporating environmentally-friendly techniques and resources. This flourishes in line with an aesthetic preference for modern, minimalistic structures that combine both design and functionality.

Modern trends in the African architectural space centre on a reverence for materials and styles that hearken to their national heritage, using a building to celebrate its continental roots. Such native eco-materials might include clay, or even coconut leaves used to clad a structure. 
 
The world-renowned Pritzker Architecture Prize has acknowledged Africa as a destination that hosts some of the best architecture in the world, thanks to the combination of creativity, functionality and innovation. This is evidenced by the Burkinabe architect, Diébédo Francis Kéré, who in 2022 became the first African and Black architect to win the prize. Kéré himself has worked on some landmark projects in Kenya, including the Startup Lions ICT Campus in Turkana – an iconic design inspired by the shape and structure of termite mounds. 
 
Major Kenyan firms in the architectural space, such as S. K. Archplans, TRIAD Architects, and Beglin Woods, are consolidated through membership within the industry body uniting the field and advocating for global best practices.

Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK)
 
A brief overview of the industry body dedicated to advancing East Africa’s architectural landscape
 
Established in 1967, the Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) is Kenya’s leading association for professionals in the built and natural environment, incorporating architects, quantity surveyors, town planners, engineers, landscape architects and environmental design consultants and construction project managers.
 
The association is registered under the Societies Act and brings together professionals from the private sector, public sector and academia. AAK also acts as a critical link between professionals and stakeholders in the construction industry, including policymakers, manufacturers, real estate developers and financial institutions.
 
Centred on the core values of transparency, service delivery, teamwork, professionalism and innovation, AAK endeavours to be the leading professional organisation in Kenya’s built and natural environment. 
 
AAK works with an esteemed roster of partners, including the Africa Association for Quantity Surveyors (AAQS), the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA), the International Project Management Association (IPMA), and the Africa Union of Architects (AUA) to name just a few. 
 
The association has been recognised with awards of excellence for a host of iconic construction projects across Kenya, as seen with the Lamu Apartments, Enshapai Resort, The Hub Karen, and the Swahili Gem. 
 
At present, AAK numbers over 5,000 members encompassing the private sector, academia, and government. With the new Kenyan government now in place, AAK is concerned with the #KenyaWeWant campaign, which identifies issues across the sector that will need to be prioritised by facilitating an open platform for dialogue across the industry. Key issues within this include climate justice, sustainable urban growth, improving the business environment, urban mobility, and reformed urban governance.
 
INVESTING IN A GREEN FUTURE
In its commitment to building an environmentally sustainable future for Kenya, AAK has recently launched the Safari Green Building Index. An initiative wholly owned and devised by the association, this is an industry-leading critical rating tool that has undergone rigorous reviews by a host of industry experts. 
 
The Safari Green Building Index was developed by the Technical Committee of AAK’s Environmental Design Consultants (EDC) chapter. As a national rating system, the tool can be applied to any kind of building within Kenya’s different climatic zones, and beyond into other East African countries. 
 
AAK also champions the environmental cause by hosting events, where industry players can network and discuss such topics, as seen with the CPD Event to be held on 29th September 2022. Hosted by the EDC chapter, this exclusive event is dedicated to the topic of working towards waste management efficiency throughout the built environment and identifying future opportunities for improvement.