A modern city, Nairobi boosts of 64 high-rise buildings, such as Nyayo House and I & M Bank Tower etc., 35 low-rise buildings, including Roast House and Pioneer House among others, 5 skyscrapers, such as Times Tower and Kenyatta International Conference Centre. There’s also a monument, a bell tower and 1 airport tower.

Types and styles of buildings have the capacity to enhance and change your lifestyle, improve your outlook and most importantly make you productive. Similarly, poor building designs can be repressive and make you miserable. This implies that building types and styles can determine the investment potential of a building.

What are the building types and styles prevalent In Nairobi?

Primarily, Nairobi has modern buildings. Rarely will you find traditional building designs except for very old buildings, such as the Macmillan Library.

  • Since Nairobi was the capital of British East Africa Protectorate, most building types and styles here have European elements.

Owing to the fact that the types and styles of building impact our lives, from work and school to communities, in Nairobi, they are often depictive of our social status, and are distinctively different between high-end, middle-class and low-class neighborhoods. There is significant diversity among buildings within and outside the CBD.

Building types and styles within the CBD

Both residential and commercial properties in Nairobi’s CBD are mostly high-rise buildings with several floors, elevators and fire exits with some having inbuilt parking areas.

  • Buildings are constructed using block and mortar
  • Most of them contain basement, ground and mezzanine floors
  • The floors and ceilings are made of slabs
  • Most recently, buildings are using glass, arches, pillars, modified metal grills and customized architectural designs to enhance building types and styles
  • To enhance building designs arched masonry is done

Buildings types and styles outside the CBD

Commercial and residential properties situated here are not more than 5 floors above the ground.

  • Properties for industries are made of either block and mortar or a combination of this with metal grills and iron sheets with cemented floors and iron sheets for roofs
  • Office buildings are similar to those within the CBD except they have fewer floors
  • Properties are semi-detached or detached with block walls separating them
  • Most of them have individual compounds and parking areas

Building types and styles in low-Income neighborhoods

The types of buildings in these areas are often meant to meet the housing needs of the occupants and therefore less thought and effort is made towards enhancing the design of the building.

  • They often entail 4-5 storied flats or grounded houses made of block and mortar and partitioned accordingly into single, double, bedsitters, 1 and 2 bedrooms
  • Iron sheets are the preferred material for roof, and floors are cemented
  • In slum or squatter settlements within Nairobi, houses are made of mud or iron sheets for walls, plain earth floor and iron sheets are used for the roof
  • Majority of buildings are built in rows and columns and limited space is left for compounds and parking lots

Building Types And Styles In Middle And Upper Class Neighborhoods

In these neighborhoods, sophisticated designs and style of buildings are taken into account when constructing.

  • Most middle-class buildings are either maisonettes or high-end apartments situated in gated communities referred to as estates with a single common entry point. One estate can have 25-30 housing units.
  • Majority of high-end buildings are either single-unit houses or old-fashioned buildings that are equipped with 6-10 bedrooms, guest wings, servant quarters, large compounds with adjacent farms/gardens.
  • Most of the buildings are installed with concrete floor tiles and clay roof tiles.
  • There is a great application of architectural creativity in style and design of houses.
  • Blocks and mortar are often used, although timber and bricks are often integrated to enhance the buildings outlook and designs

Going green

As global awareness increases about the need to conserve the environment, more recent buildings in Nairobi are going green by using renewable construction materials, installing solar panels and using translucent iron sheets for lighting among other things.

In addition, technology and innovation are being used to develop futuristic buildings that meet present and future housing needs, such as seen in Tetu City and Konza City.

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