• Central Catering Unit/ Dalgliesh Marshall Johnson

Architects: Dalgliesh Marshall Johnson Architects DMJA  
Location: Nairobi  Kenya
Photographer: Edwin Seda
Website: www.uonbi.ac.ke

In recent times brutalism architecture gave way to structural expressionism and de-constructivism but this building tries to merge the three in an attempted harmony and cannot be classified in either and the architect struggle can be seen in the entire building.

Before being painted the exposed concrete beams and walls displayed on their surface the wooden framework that was used in the in-situ formwork. The paining of the building to match the university colours not only takes away from the character of the building but works to reduce the scale and fotress like look of the building making it just another building within the university.

The functions and the services of the building are expressed and exposed in some of the elevations evident so in the projecting staircase with egg crate shading elements for natural diffused lighting. The building having two wings has the kitchen and services on one side bridged to the main dining area on the other.

With its linear, fortress like and blockish predominant concrete structure the Central Catering Unit Building is a brutal statement that may be appreciated by others and heavily criticized by others.

In context the building fits well into its environs by accommodating the movement of the student where the building is lifted in the middle to ensure that student movement to the hostels and the classes with ease.

What makes this building even more successful is how the structure doesn’t just serve its structural purposes but couples as shading elements as the building widens from its base to the roof.  The windows of the structure are recessed into the building protecting the glass from direct sunlight. Its an approach where shading of the building is not an add into the design but is one of the pieces of a whole that makes the entire design.

The roof slab appears to be illusively floating on the linear glass semi operable windows. The staggered roof allows the building to be ventilated and lit from above thus solving the issue of the wide plan building.

The building today functions less as the catering unit with the dining area being outside the services wing and the intended dining area being lecture hall and mainly exam room for extra-mural studies.

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