Tuesday01 September 2015

First look

Woolf breaks ground in Nairobi

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Jonathan Woolf Architects has revealed designs for a 1,300sq m private house in Nairobi, Kenya.

Located on a forested ridge overlooking a steep valley, the project comprises three square forms nestled into the hillside and arranged around a courtyard garden. Two of the wings will house a family of five – the lower element for sleeping, the middle for living – while the upper wing, a single-storey bungalow, is designed for grandparents.

Entered through the courtyard garden, which leads directly to the living room, the central wing is set out in the spirit of a covered veranda.

A kitchen and a family room open to a back garden, which is shared with the grandparents’ house, while a corridor leads to the two-storey bedroom wing, with guest rooms below.

Model of house. The three wings nestle into the hillside.

Model of house. The three wings nestle into the hillside.


Walls are built in a locally found, dense volcanic stone, hand-tooled into small blocks and rendered in rustic, textured plaster within, while a sweeping concrete-framed roof, clad with tiles in the same stone, covers the forms with a continuous sweeping lid. An irregular series of chimneys brings light into the deep plan and provides a means of cross-ventilation through hand-operated timber flaps.

“We wanted to avoid the convention of a stacked house, which separates the floors too much,” explained Jonathan Woolf.

“We have tried to spread the building out on the land so it presents a low profile and seems relatively humble from the outside.”

The project has just started on site and is expected to complete within 18 months.

site plan


1 Bedrooms
2 Garden courtyard
3 Living area
4 Grandparents’ wing
5 Access road


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