Can Kenya’s Iconic Buildings Last 100 Years
you ever wonder, as you walk through the city, if the skyscrapers all around
you will live to be colossal Methuselahs, or if they will give way to bigger,
more imposing successors one day in the future?
our time’s marvels, these picturesque masterpieces, will one day fade away?
Buildings, like humans, will eventually decompose. Even as they stand strong,
the end is always in sight.
structures take decades to finally call it quits and pass the torch to their
successors. However, some structures, such as the Megalithic Temples of Malta,
which are thought to be the oldest free-standing structures on the planet, seem
to last forever, withstanding thousands of years of extreme weather,
earthquakes, and human activity. The temples were built between 3600 and 700
approximately 2670 BCE to 664 BCE, Egyptian pyramids were built as a result of
incredible artistry and breathtaking engineering. Some have crumbled under the
weight of time, leaving only ruins as ageless reminders of what were once
magnificent feats of human intelligence. Others, however, such as Giza’s
Pyramid of Khafre, have kept some of their smooth, original polished limestone
House (on Kenyatta Avenue), All Saints Cathedral, Parliament Buildings, and the
Kenya National Archives are among Nairobi’s oldest structures (CBD). The
Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) was built around a decade after
Kenya gained independence, and Times Towers was built in the mid-1990s. Many
other towers are much younger, but how long will they last?
to architect Moses Okemwa, director of Amber Construction Ltd, a building’s
lifespan can be determined by its usability as times and needs change, as well
as its structural soundness.
building code makes no mention of building lifespan.” Commercial
buildings, on the other hand, are built to last 50 to 60 years. After that,
they may become structurally unsound or be overtaken by ever-changing user requirements,
rendering them unusable,” he says.
built to last that long, or longer, conscious effort must be made to ensure
that such a structure conforms to changing needs, with regular renovations
required to keep the structure habitable.
and other structures can be designed to last for more than a century.”
“A structure like New York’s Empire State Building has now lasted for
nearly 92 years, but there are always efforts made to preserve it and change
the spaces to meet modern space requirements,” Mr Okemwa says.
in an aging building, like wrinkles on human skin, appear alongside other
indicators that age is finally catching up. And, just as professionals are
pushed out of the job market as their skill set becomes obsolete due to cutting-edge
technology only accommodating the most tech-savvy, often younger, workers,
buildings frequently lose their place to newer, more modern ones as societies
when you notice failures in the support system, such as the development of
cracks, concrete chipping off, or, if it’s a steel structure, the members
starting to corrode, you can call the structural soundness of a building into
question,” he says.
when a building does not meet the spatial requirements, it was originally
designed to offer or due to changes in planning regulations that may require
buildings of a specific scale to be built in certain zones of a city,” the
architect explains. “The bungalows built in the Lavington and Kilimani
areas have now been demolished and replaced by high-rise commercial and
of the very ancient, our most famous city landmarks could be preserved for
future generations to see. The over 55-meter-tall Tower of Pisa in Italy, which
leans by about four degrees, was built in 1372, with the foundation set in
unstable subsoil, resulting in a tilt before construction was completed. The
tower has survived for hundreds of years, defying the death knell that was
sounded on it many years ago and in the years since.
the KICC, which looks perfectly solid, and other monuments that grace our city,
stand the test of time and see the next century?