For the love of skycrappers

On completion, the ‘City Under the Sun’ will boast two tallest bulidings in Africa

Nairobi’s skyline is being redefined with a slew of ambitious projects as top architects continue to push the limits.

This is being backed by the growing confidence levels from building planners in Kenya’s real estate industry despite uncertainty and fractious headlines created by market analysts in the last two years.

A growing chorus of urban dwellers suggest that the country’s major cities may very well need more of these structures. Tall towers, it is argued, could add the density needed to help cure steep housing costs and bridge inequality in other cities other than Nairobi and its vicinities.

Energy efficiency

It is also believed that dense concentrations of tall buildings could also help make urban centres more energy efficient than sprawling suburbs.

With Africa’s tallest building ‘The Pinnacle’ well positioned in the capital’s financial hub of Upperhill, reaching some 300 metres in height, as well as the second tallest skyscraper on the continent, the 88 Nairobi Condominium – just a stone-throw away, it seems topping those charts again might not be out of reach for Kenya’s capital – at least not just yet.

Just last week Upperhill – which continues to play host to the city’s magnificent skyscrapers the country has seen, formally ushered 31– storey Britam Tower, a flagship project of Britam’s property subsidiary arm – the tallest building in East and Central Africa which began leasing Friday to diplomatic missions, multinationals, private companies and financial institutions.

This comes even as construction works on The Pinnacle, 69 floor Hilton Hotel with helipad, formally started in January this year, the tallest tower in Africa, easily exceeding Johannesburg’s 223m Carlton Centre, while construction of 88 Nairobi Condominium is now on course.

“This ground-breaking is going to send a powerful message about the future of Kenya, which is increasingly becoming a hub for investment in sub-Saharan Africa,” explained Jonathan Jackson, Chairman of Lordship Africa recently – the real estate development and Investment Company undertaking the 88 Nairobi Condominium project.

The ambitious project for instance, which is being built at a cost of Sh5 billion (excluding land-associated costs and permits), sits on two acres and is being financed from a consortium of equity partners, debts bankrolling and income generated from the project’s off-plan sales.

Parking ratios

The ultra-modern Britam tower has a total to-let space of 350,000 square feet with 1,000 parking bays achieving one of the highest parking ratios in the city (15 storey parking silo), high parking ratios in excess of international standards.

What makes these skyscrapers unique to this market is the fact that, most boast unique and distinguished features including, earthquake resistance capacity, stringent fire safety provisions as well as pressurised fire escape staircases, State-of-the-art fire detection and fighting equipment.

Water harvesting

Besides green topographies, the towers have incorporated rain water harvesting, water recycling and reuse facilities, use of water and energy saving sanitary and light fixtures as well as being designed for natural ventilation and daylight – akin to buildings in the developed markets.

The new skyscrapers being built mainly in Nairobi have also been argued to be places where the world’s super-rich ‘hide’ their money.

Also thought to be fueling the appetite for skyscrapers, is the high costs of land in prime areas like Kilimani, Upperhill and Muthaiga for instance, where land costs run into hundreds of millions of shillings for an acreage piece of plot.

Land prices in Nairobi and satellite towns have been rising over the last few years. Land in satellite towns rose by 2.5 per cent in 2016 compared to 0.5 per cent last year and 0.23 per cent in the second quarter of 2018, according to recent figures by Hass Property Index Report.

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