• Architecture: From Nothing to Something

What is architecture about?

Keynote Speaker: Manilal (Manu) Chandaria OBE EBS
Movement: Architecture from Nothing to Something
Location: Intercontinental Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya

"We are men and men have to think to survive." These are the call to action words of Manilal Chandaria at the annual AAK gala meeting held on March 27th 2013 at the Intercontinental Hotel Nairobi where he was the guest during the inaugural installation of Chairman Arch. Gatheca Waweru Jr. as the new AAK Chairman.

"What is architecture about?  i have seen architects in Kenya and their attempt at designing in the sub-Saharan Africa. We see buildings coming up every day. But an in-depth call to action for you as Architects would be that what can you do as a steward in your field? What do you have to offer your country as an architect that can change the scope? We see skyscrapers coming and mushrooming all over the world? But is it all just about skyscrapers and towering buildings? Is that what makes a statement for an architect in that we all have to get that big tower up to have our name there?

We cannot have skyscrapers alone. We need to have solutions within us because after building up Nairobi, then what next? Shouldn’t we move on to other areas and make them cities? Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru...

It’s all about standards, quality and decisions...the right kind of decisions.

I have been to China and have seen what human endeavor can do. 35 years back China was nothing. Now it is walls after walls after walls. It is a new USA in the east with everything high-rise. With that i do not mean we build a new USA here. All it needs is to come up with local solutions for our local problems in low cost housing, using of locally available materials and many more."

We need to use our education to generate ideas because architecture is not just all about beauty but the human endeavor to solve human problems with design. Architecture is to inform our people of what our country is capable of.

95percent of people are ready and there. All it needs is for the people of intelligence to feel compelled because after all it can be done and must be done.

[Manilal Premchand Chandaria is OBE,EBS is a Kenyan Businessman and CEO/Chairman of Comcraft Group of Companies, a billion dollar enterprise that has presence in over 40countries]

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