Climate Responsive Institutional Buildings In Nairobi
Moraa, Nyanchoga, Velma
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A history of higher education shows that universities and colleges have been at the frontage of making as well as deconstructing theories and paradigms. They have commanded social change as a result of scientific breakthroughs but also through the teaching of intellects, forerunners and future-makers (Cortese, 2003; Elton, 2003; Lozano, 2006; Tilbury et al., 2005b). The increase of students enrolled in higher education brings out more need and opening to join good environmental practices and sharing of knowledge into higher learning institutions in Kenya (United Nations Environment Programme, 2018). These very institutions of higher learning deliver role models of brilliance in education. However, in our current context, there is need for healthy and environmentally sound campuses as campuses today are being modelled as miniature cities, with little or no essence of their own. Most of Nairobi’s most climate responsive architecture was arguably done during the 1940’s-1980’s and it appears that responses to the tropical sun had been well concretized to developing a clear architectural language. It is however not the case presently with the effects of modernism on architectural forms. Most of the new education buildings in Nairobi are imitations of buildings designed in the industrialised world and are seen to not take keen considerations of adverse climatic effects. Last but not least, there is need for architects to train in building physics and environmental responsiveness so as to improve choices made with the buildings’ user-comfort and energy performance (UN HABITAT, 2015). To tackle the problem, various objectives are identified. These include, an examination of how university buildings built in Nairobi, Kenya during the present times fit in within the climate in the region. An investigation of various environmental cues that architects’ respond to when designing education buildings and an assessment into whether climate change affected the outlook of the current education buildings in Nairobi. Various parameters like site planning, building orientation, natural ventilation, natural lighting, thermal comfort, and sourcing of locally available materials among others, have been identified through reputable authors in the literature review section of this thesis. Moreover, other salient issues are pointed out with regard to standards of practice in university buildings world- wide. The research design is then formulated in the third chapter of the research. A descriptive study is undertaken so at to represent an accurate profile of the extents of climatic response in university buildings in Nairobi. A case-study method is used to investigate the University buildings namely University of Nairobi Towers and The Learning Resource Center at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. Both buildings were selected due to their ease of accessibility for the purpose of the study and them having been completed and in occupation in the recent years. The fieldwork indicates use of the parameters stated in the literature review section of the thesis. The parameters are used to analyse the status of both universities and the extents used by the designers to mitigate the effects of climate in the region. A summary of the findings elaborates that both universities are planned to avoid direct sun into the building with the longer facades along the E-W and the majority of openings found along the N-S orientation. They are also planned within a courtyard with overall proximity to one another to bring overall shading into the buildings. The buildings also take cognisance of the sun’s movement with the longer length of the buildings along the E-W and openings found majorly on the N-S orientation. Sun-shading is used at the Learning Resource Centre by use of roof overhangs, horizontal aluminium fins, vertical and horizontal reinforced concrete fins and recessed windows. This is similar at the University of Nairobi Towers, but not to a larger scale, which uses horizontal awnings to prevent direct sun into the building. Natural lighting is used to light both developments to a great extent. Both schemes use natural ventilation, however, the University of Nairobi towers also relies on artificial ventilation in some of its spaces. The learning resource centre uses locally available materials to greater extents compared to the University of Nairobi Towers. Use of lighter surface finishes and thermal mass is evident in both developments. The conclusions and recommendations are given in the final chapter. Conclusions indicate that both developments attempt to design with climate in mind according to the parameters identified in the literature review section of the study. Additionally, the recommendations entail involvement of local government and various associated associations in the implementation of climate responsive design through use of subsidies and enactment of favourable regulatory frame-works to facilitate and promote climate responsive design in the education sector. With the growing need for universities nationwide to accommodate the large number of students, a similar study may be replicated in a different locality in Kenya. Warm humid climatic regions would attract a good study with a number of issues which need to be addressed with regard to thermal comfort in these institutions. A study of use of technology to facilitate climate response in buildings would also be interesting to look at.
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