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Architecture in Kenya is as mysterious as the professionals themselves. Rarely talked about in its exact terms, every time the word is mentioned, it is in reference to origins of a totally different thing, say the ‘goldentberg architect’ or the ‘architect of the media bill’.
Yet this is one of the most lucrative professions, a field that is barely serviced. Rarely would you hear of an unemployed graduate architect and their entry salaries mostly match those of their seniors in most other professions. Opportunities to venture into personal business either as an individual or corporate entity are vast and come early in one’s career.
Ironically though, the largest batch of architects get into the profession by ‘mistake’. Most of them passed so well in their exams but for some reason were not admitted into a course in medicine, their course of choice. Others were curious about this strange course that they could barely pronounce and just picked it up. Many others are forced by their parents/guardians who have some idea of what the course entails. Very few had set up their minds for the profession.
In the midst of all that clouds this profession, getting into it simply requires an education of five or more years from a recognized institution of higher learning, practise of 18 months under a registered architect and passing of a board examination. This is a requirement of Architects and Quantity Surveyor’s Act Cap 525 of the laws of Kenya. In exact terms, one must undergo through a degree of Bachelor of Architecture available at the University of Nairobi or the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. Thereafter, work under a registered architect for 18 months and sit for a professional exam administered by the Board of Registration for Architects and Quantity Surveyors. Passing the exam entitles one to a practise certificate and a registration number. The board also regulates the practise by disciplining errant professionals.
In legal terms, no building in the city maybe constructed without the input of a registered architect. The control exists at city hall where all plans for approval must be signed by a registered architect who includes their registration certificate in the submission. However, due to corruption, this rule is barely applied. Less than 20% of all buildings in the city have the input of registered professionals. This means that 80% of Nairobians are living in spaces that can be considered ‘dangerous’. Refer to a previous article in the blog – Kenyans Living in Highrise Graveyards.
More information on the profession maybe found from the Architectural Association of Kenya, a professional body incorporating Architects, Quantity Surveyors and Engineers. You may also request information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.