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Incubation Centre in Kenya Inspired by Termite Colonies

Startup Lions Campus is an information and communication technologies (ICT) campus, located on the banks of Lake Turkana, Kenya designed by Kéré Architects.

The project responds to the pressing challenge of youth unemployment faced in the region by offering high-level training and access to international job opportunities, allowing young entrepreneurs to thrive professionally without having to leave their place of origin. The campus will provide 100 new workstations and is the first step in an ambitious vision of spreading ICT networks in remote areas.

The project celebrates the unique morphology and natural beauty of its site, according to Francis Kéré an internationally renowned Burkinabè architect, who founded Kéré Architecture GmbH, as well as the Kéré Foundation, a non-profit organisation that pursues projects in Gando. Francis is recognised for his pioneering approach to design and sustainable modes of construction.

This structure is built over two levels that follow the natural slope and features extensive roof terraces that offer sweeping views over Lake Turkana. The roof terraces are shaded by creeping vegetation, providing pleasant outdoor meeting spaces and opportunities for the informal exchange of ideas. The building takes inspiration from the towering mounds built by termite colonies in the region. Tall ventilation towers create a stack effect to naturally cool the main working spaces by extracting warm air upwards, while fresh air is introduced through specially designed low-level openings. This system allows the campus to withstand high temperatures and is especially well suited as it prevents dust from damaging the IT equipment. In addition to their functional role, the towers create a landmark in the surroundings.

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“The campus is built out of locally sourced quarry stone with a plaster finish. In choosing which materials and construction techniques to use, ecological sustainability, cost and availability factors were weighed to arrive at the best compromise. Collaboration with the local community was key in this decision-making process, drawing from their experience and expertise,” says Francis Kéré.

Francis Kere’s very first building – the Gando Primary School, which he designed, raised funds for and realised in collaboration with the residents of his hometown while still a student at the Technical University of Berlin – was awarded the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture, garnering him critical acclaim from the outset of his career.

PROJECT DETAILS

Startup Lions Campus

Location: Turkana County, Kenya

Type of project: Education

Size: 1 416 sqm

Design: May 2019 – December 2019

Construction: December 2020 – April 2021

Status: Completed

Architect: Kéré Architecture, Diébédo Francis Kéré, Berlin, Germany

Design team: Kinan Deeb, Andrea Maretto

Kéré Architecture, Berlin, Germany

Contributors: Juan Carlos Zapata, Leonne Vögelin, Charles André, Malak Nasreldin

Kéré Architecture, Berlin, Germany

Project Management: Kinan Deeb

Kéré Architecture, Berlin, Germany

Engineering: BuildX Studio, Kyuna Rd, Nairobi, Kenya

Construction: BuildX Studio, Kyuna Rd, Nairobi, Kenya

Client: Learning Lions gUG (haftungsbeschränkt), Geltendorf, Germany