Greenfield Terminal JKIA/Gensler Architects
Architects: Gensler International Architects
Client: Kenya Aviation Authority
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Project Status: Proposal
Gensler Architects are perhaps the largest grossing firm in the world at the moment and this does not come by accident. They have been associated with some of the best projects worldwide and it is perhaps by no surprise that they were contracted by the Kenya government to carry out the design of the extension to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the largest one in the East African region.
The bone of contention was to create a signature gateway into the country and out into the world. The project demanded a lasting architectural memory into the minds of the Kenyan and foreign travellers.
In all due impartiality it delivers just that.
The theme echoes the Kenyan spirit with low lying structures that mimic the savanna. The architects are firmly grounded on producing a building that fits within its environment by ensuring that it is sustainable and cost effective. This provides for collective and ecological endeavor within the project at a larger scale. The project also serves to marry with the existing buildings and architecture at the airport with the bold lines and extensive characters.
The panoramic effect that the project gives you, are reminiscent of the savanna landscape that spreads over and spills into the horizon. The building rises up from the ground to meet with a provocative green roof and then merges up with the rest of the terminal towards the entire complex. The building is blessed with ‘awesome’ gardens and courtyards.The green seems to come from the ground onto the roof tops in courageous uniformity and this provides authenticity within the airport as one can see the conscious attempt at ensuring greenery and local materials are utilized within the main passenger areas. The incorporation of the green indoor vegetation seems to gratify the passengers and the general use of the terminal by providing cool air and ventilated spaces.
The building, in as much as is a savanna experience also allows for modernity within it. There is extensive use of large openings within the buildings to come up with lighting solutions that save on energy use and also provide for interesting views into the landing bays. The building’s terminal has a dynamic shell to it that blends well with the environment and this also serves a duality purpose of minimizing the required heating and cooling of the building by hindering elements form without into the building and also by purifying the air that is within and temperature levels.
The overall character of the building is that of a contemporary morphing of the identity of Kenyans into clean lines that run horizontally and this serves to increase views into the savanna verdure, something that both the local traveller and the visiting one will find quite refreshing. The building possesses gallant symbolism combined with brief but terse items and traditional lending of interlaced character traits within the building’s features that auger well with what the experienced Kenyan architect is prone to do with their immediate environment influencing the though process.
[More detailed coverage in subsequent updates on the project]