Australian High Commission

Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Client: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Status: Under Construction


The Design Approach for the proposed new Australian High Commission, Nairobi, Kenya has sought to reinforce the importance of the relationship between Australia and Kenya and provide a uniquely Australian architectural outcome that remains both sensitive and considerate of its site, environmental conditions and the social and cultural environment in which it is located. These factors in parallel to security, ESD, Budget and local construction capability provide the basis from which the design has involved, initially from conceptual sketches to a more refined building with a distinct identity. While located away from the city, in a low density area, the new AHC site lies contextually within the City of Nairobi. Situated within the Diplomatic precinct of Nairobi the AHC remains in close proximity to a number of foreign embassies, residential compounds and up market retail developments. Belonging to a common typology of stand-alone commercial facilities located within private landscaped sites, the appearance of the new facility will draw upon this typology as well as the scale, materials colours and forms found locally. Landscape in particular is a major focus of the new High Commission in part as a security consideration but more contextual offers space for staff to escape the work environment whilst remaining secure. Providing a building that is ‘nestled’ within the site has enabled the design to integrate the landscaping beyond that of a visual barrier. Rather the landscape has been instrumental in the design process, recognising the climate and environment is conducive to a rich landscaped environment. Planting offers a green belt to the site softening the more private aspects of the compound from prying eyes. The way in which the landscape has been developed reflects a border Australian approach to the increased ambiguity between internal and external environments. The inclusion of a pool, staff BBQ and social area and tennis court all offer further incentives allowing staff respite from the high security environment of Nairobi. 

The architecture presents a bold built form complimented by the use of texture, shadow and light. Maximising glazing to the north and south elevations allows for improved natural light and sits comfortably with the climate of Nairobi. Coloured concrete reflecting the redness of the iron and aluminium rich soil, a colour also synonymous with Australia is used as the dominant material. Access around the site is tightly controlled through discrete and subtle measures, retaining constant glimpses through to landscaped gardens and recognising the diverse nature of the expected visitors. The Design strategy has sought to deliver a contemporary architectural design, offering a sophisticated yet sensitive building - one that reinforces Australia’s commitment to the region.


Photography: James Cubitt Architects