Monday, September 17, 2012

Top 20 Buildings in Kenya

Kenya is filled with so many beautiful architectural wonders

About a week ago, the Daily Nation published an article on Kenya’s top 15 buildings; this was one of the most comprehensive lists of the recent times.
Motivated by the list which is based on a survey by the Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) and the National Museums of Kenya, Daily Kenya has come up with a list of top 20 ancient and modern buildings in the country.
Going by the top 15 list, Daily Kenya agrees with KICC remaining the best building in the country. Kipande House and Co-operative House come second and third respectively in contrast with the third and fourth position they received in the list. Without doubt, Parliament Buildings is a great building but takes position four in the top 20 list.
Another change in the list is where Holy Family Basilica takes fifth position while Coca-Cola headquarters come sixth. The rest remains unchanged with addition of five others.
Here are the top 20 buildings in Kenya:

Image courtesy of  
1. Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC)
Completed: 1974  Floors: 30  Height: 105m (344ft)  Located: City Hall Way
Architect: Norwegian Karl Henrik Nostvik
Very few people hardly miss the opportunity to take a photo of this impressive landmark when they visit.
The structure, which hosts various international conferences and seminars, gives one of the best views you can get in town. On a clear day, you can get a glimpse of Africa’s second-highest mountain, Mt. Kenya from its helicopter-landing zone.
KICC has no air conditioning system; it uses natural air flowing from the ‘fins’.
The hut shaped amphitheater was added as an afterthought.    
Image source: 

2. Kipande House
Completed: 1913   Floor: One-Storey  Located: Kenyatta Avenue and Loita Street
Architect: Gurdit Singh  
Kipande House, which is currently occupied by the Kenya Commercial Bank, originally served as a warehouse for Coolies (Indian manual laborers who worked in the Kenya-Uganda Railway).  
This historical masterpiece was where Kenyans were once required to be registered and issued with identity cards (IDs) referred to as ‘Kipande’ in Swahili; hence the name Kipande House.  
The one-storey building that sports a quirky tower was Kenya’s tallest building until City Hall was opened in 1935.    
It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Image Source:
3. Co-operative Bank House
Completed: 1981 Renovated: 2002 Floor: 27  Height: 83m (272ft) Located: Haile Selassie Avenue
Architect: Zevet Kenya Architects and Engineers
Popularly referred to as ‘Bell Bottom House’ is another modern architectural masterpiece that survived the 1998 US Embassy bombing. Following renovations in 2002, Co-operative Bank returned to its original premises.  
Resembles the ‘Flare’ trousers that were the fashion trend in the seventies.  
Constructed by Israel’s largest construction conglomerate, Solel Boneh International.

Image source:
4. Parliament Buildings
Completed: Building A – 1954, Building B – 1965 Located: Parliament Road
Architect: Thonrnly Dyer and Mr Amyas D. Connell
The iconic landmark, which beholds a large English-clock tower similar to Big Ben found in UK, hosts the National Assembly of Kenya and the mausoleum that houses the body of Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta.   
The Kenyan Parliament is modeled after the Westminster system of government in the United Kingdom.
Image Source:
5. Holy Family Basilica  
Completed: 1960  Height: 30m (98ft)  Located: Parliament Road
Architect: Dorothy Hughes of Hughes & Polkinghorne Architects
What meets you first at the Catholic Minor Basilica Holy Family populary known as the Holy Family Basilica is the large crucifix behind the main altar.  
The Majestic architectural beauty has one main altar, two side altars, eight chapels, two halls, notable icons of the Holy Family of Nazareth, St Joseph, and the Blessed Virgin Mary as well as a grotto.    
The basilica serves as the seat of the Archdiocese of Nairobi and has a seating capacity of 4,000.
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6. Coca-Cola Headquarters
Completed: 2008  Located: Upper Hill – Kilimanjaro Road
Architects: South Africa’s GAPP Architects & Urban Designers and Kenya’s Triad Architects
Upper Hill has numerous impressive architectural landmarks with others under construction and proposed, however the Coca-Cola Headquarters stands out top in innovative design and beauty.
Its concept was derived from the Coca-Cola brand ribbon and boasts of many ‘Green’ features that include solar heating, rainwater harvesting, power conservation devices and a green roof garden.
The headquarters serve as the regional office for East and Central Africa, meeting operations for 27 Africa nations.   
7. The Village Market
Completed: 1995  Located: Limuru Road, Gigiri  
Architect: Mehraz Ehsani
With over 150 stores, the large shopping-recreation and entertainment complex is another architectural marvel inspired by a fusion African and Persian design.
The design, which resembles an open-air African market, was the brainchild of two Kenyan brothers Hamed and Mehraz Ehsani. They two wanted to provide a shopping and recreation experience for Gigiri’s residents that include expatriates diplomats and tourists.  
Located in Gigiri residential area, the complex houses a 5-star hotel, an award-winning outdoor food court, 19 restaurants, a cinema, 20-feet high water slides, an Olympic size bowling alley and numerous boutique shops.  
On Friday, the Maasai Market is opened at Village market’s Upper Car Park.
Tribe-Village Market Hotel featured twice on the prestigious Condé Nast Traveller’s Hot Lists for 2010.  
8. Kenya Railway Headquarters
Completed: 1924  Located: Moi Avenue
Architect: Sir Herbert John Baker  
Sir Herbert Baker a dominant force in South African architecture from 1892-1912 designed the Kenya Railway Headquarters opening in 1927.  
Its design is borrowed from neo-classical architectural style that dominated the earlier colonial era in Africa.  
Together with his assistant Jan Hoogterp, Baker designed the State House (previously Government House), Law Courts and Nairobi School (previously Prince of Wales Schools).  

9. Mahatma Gandhi Wing – University of Nairobi
Completed: 1962  Location: Harry Thuku Road
Architect: Henning and Chitty
The living Memorial of Mahatma Gandhi houses the college of Arts, Science and Commerce.
A beautiful statue of Gandhi is found in the premises.  
 10. Jomo Kenyatta Memorial Library – University of Nairobi  
Completed: 1981 Located: University Way
Architect: Mutiso Menezis International
Built in memory of the late President Jomo Kenyatta, the library accommodates over a million volumes and periodicals as well as 1500 readers.
11. Florida Night Club
Completed: 1965 Located: Koinage Street
Architect: Hughes and Polkinghorne
Popularly referred to as Maddhouse or Maddi, is a famous discotheque.
12. Hilton Hotel
Completed: 1969  Renovated: 1997 Floors: 17 Located: Watilii Street
Architect: Zevet Kenya Architects and Engineers
With its unique cylindrical architecture the beautiful 5-star hotel houses elegant dining, business and recreational facilities that include an all-suite pool that comes with à la carte service.
13. Kenyatta National Hospital – Main Block
Completed: 1967  Located: Hospital Road
Architect: Cobb, Archer and Scammell and Watson and Crowder
 Kenya’s oldest hospital Kenyatta National Hospital is another architecture spectacle appearing in the list. The design was first conceived by leading architectural firm Cobb, Archer and Scammell [Arch Jim Archer also practiced in the firm] before Watson and Crowder joining in the project.
 14. Sarakasi Dome (Old Shan Cinema)
Completed: 1952  Renovated: 2006  Floors: 3 Located: Ngara Road
Architect: TAC (The Architects’ Collaborative)
The building designed by contemporary American architects serves as an art centre for developing dancers, acrobats, musician, and circus performers. At its rooftop, one can catch the panoramic view of Nairobi city.
15. IPS Building
Completed: 1967  Located: Kaunda Street
Architect: TAC (The Architects’ Collaborative)
The Industrial Promotion Services better known as the IPS building was officially opened in 1967 by the late president Jomo Kenyatta together with the visiting H.H Aga Khan IV.
16. Khoja Mosque (JamatKhana Building)
Completed: 1922  Located: Moi Avenue
Architect: Virji Nanji
Khoja Mosque is another remarkable religious structure, which beholds decorated minarets. The mosque that was built for Nairobi’s Ismaili Community expresses the beauty of Indo-Islamic Architecture.  
It hosts the Shah Ismailia Association.     
17. All Saints’ Cathedral
Completed: 1952  Located: Kenyatta Avenue (opp Serena Hotel)
The masterpiece is a Gothic-style Anglican cathedral with traditional arches and ribbed ceiling, it was completed and consecrated in 1952. A second extension hall is almost complete.
18. Macmillan Memorial Library
Completed: 1931  Located: Banda Street (next to Jamia Mosque)
 Was established in memory of American big game hunter Lord William Northup MacMillan by his widow.     
It is the headquarters of the Nairobi City Library Services.
19. Oswal Jain Temple
Completed: 1984
The true work of art embodies the classical use of stone in the exterior and interior of the Temple. Three stones used in the building include Balleshwar Sand Stone, White Marble, and Porbandar Sand Stone.
The temple is the second-biggest Jain temple outside India.
20. Kenindia House
Completed: 1981  Located: Loita Street
Architect: Messrs. Mangat, I. B. Patel & Partners (of Engineer Ishwarlal Becharbhai Patel)
High-rise building Kenindia House closes the top 20 list.

Other Great Buildings that missed in the list:  
Old Mutual Building
Located: Kimathi Street
A low-rise building
St. Andrew’s PCEA
Located: Junction of State House Road and Nyerere Road
Rahimtulla Trust Library – Library Information Support Services (LISS)
Completed: 1953  Located: Mfangano Street    
Kenya National Archives
Completed: 1970  Located: Moi Avenue
Houses a library and art gallery.   
New Stanley Hotel (now The Sarova Stanley)
Completed: 1913 Renovated: 1932, 1961
The 5-star hotel was a favourite stopover for travelers
Hosted the Exchange Bar, from where the Nairobi Stock Exchange operated in the 1950s.     
Cameo Cinema
Completed: 1912
One of the earliest verandah bar in Nairobi.  
Norfolk Hotel
Located: Harry Thuku Road
City Hall
Located: City Hall Way
Completed: 1935
Bank of India
Located: Kenyatta Avenue
Old PC’s House (The Nairobi Gallery)
Completed: 1913  Renovated: 2003 Located: Junction of Uhuru highway and Kenyatta Avenue
Public exhibition
Pan African House and Westminster House
Located: Kenyatta Avenue
Hare Krishna Temple
Located: Ngara Road  
Jamia Mosque
Located: Banda Street

"The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilisation." - Frank Lloyd Wright  


  1. Good review,though I expected more modern buildings

  2. Jamia Mosque is better looking than Khoja change hiyo kitu

  3. Coca-cola headquarter is a marvel

  4. Kenyatta National Hospital really

  5. Janfrans van der EerdenSeptember 21, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    Thank you for this list, a good contribution!
    However, you repeat a mistake made by the Daily Nation. The Shan Cinema is NOT designed by TAC!

  6. your article is so much based on Nairobi. Mombasa and other towns in the country have better looking buildings than these

  7. I agree completely with you on this. The article should be renamed in that regard. There ais a wealth of beautiful buildings outside Nairobi, some way more beautiful than many on this list.

  8. Let's not forget the CFC Stanbic bank building at the corner of Kimathi St and Kenyatta Avenue. It was the first stone building in Nairobi. It was built in 1906. Initially it was the Torrs Hotel. Banks have preserved colonial architecture in CBD very well.

  9. kindly link us on

  10. Reading this has opened my eyes.I can only say thank you.


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