KISM Headquarters: A Signature Project by Scope Design Systems

When Scope Design Systems won the contract to design the Kenya Institute of Supplies Management (KISM) headquarters, it was clear to the firm that the project offered an opportunity for it to cement its position as a leading player in the building and construction industry.

Coming at a time when Scope Design Systems, a leading architecture, urban planning and interior design firm, was executing other projects such as refurbishment of the Senate Chambers and The Wangari Maathai Institute among many others, the firm knew the KISM project would be instrumental in growing its profile. Incorporated 15 years ago, Scope Design Systems prides in many other projects ranging from commercial buildings, government institutions to large scale housing projects.

Being the first high-rise building project to be undertaken by Scope Design Systems in Nairobi, the firm was determined to use the project to make a statement. “This project is important to us because it will make a statement along Ngong Road and it will be a signature project for Scope Design Systems,” says Arch. Philip Lenjo, Partner at Scope Design Systems.

Notably, KISM is a national body for professionals in the practice of procurement and supplies management in Kenya. It operates as a corporate body promoting learning, development of best practices, and application of the same to the practice of procurement and supply chain management. The institute is putting up its headquarters at a time when Ngong Road area is taking a new shape in terms of urban development following the expansion of Ngong Road into a dual carriageway whereby phase 1 is nearing completion.

The expansion of Ngong road would not only ease traffic congestion along the busy road and reduce commute times but is also expected to significantly contribute to the growth of this node as an office location is and spur the relocation of new business enterprises to the area as they look for a more serene and less congested environment particularly away from the traffic congested office hub of the Central Business District (CBD).

Ngong Road has become popular because of Infrastructural upgrade leading to enhanced accessibility and connectivity and that is why we see lots of development of high rise office blocks and residential apartments coming up,” observes Arch. Lenjo. He adds that KISM whose site is strategically located along Ngong Road wants to take advantage of the transformation of Ngong Road by investing in the office block that will not only house its headquarters but also act as a revenue generating stream.

Indeed the KISM project brief to Scope Design Systems was design of an office block that would have office space for KISM to house its headquarters and a high end training facility which will be used to delivery customized procurement and supply chain training programs. The rest of the space would be sold out or rented corporate organizations to generate additional revenue to the organization.

Salient Features

With the brief from the client, Scope Design Systems came up with a concept of an ultra-modern 17-story building within the constrained site comprising three basements levels, 2 levels for retail and 12 floor levels of office space. The development comprises of 9,800 square meters of high quality office space, 150 car park bays with three high speed lifts to serve the various levels. The entrance to the building is dominated by a large canopy from which you encounter a double height lobby space that has the reception area. The ground floor and mezzanine floor has space commercial activities such as retail shops, banking halls among others, 1st floor up to the 11 th floor office space would be sold or let out to corporate bodies while KISM will be occupying the 12th floor. According to Arch. Lenjo, the high end training facility for KISM will be fitted with modern video conferencing facilities and high-speed internet connectivity, and CCTV cameras. To lower energy consumption, the design emphasises on the use of natural day lighting as well as having energy saving LED lighting fittings and high performance glass windows that allow enough natural light but minimise heat gain into the office space.

The development is also served by a borehole, back-up generator, fire detectors and sprinkler systems and solar water heating and lighting energy systems.

“This is an ultra-modern building offering a full package of high quality office space and amenities.” he states, adding that construction commenced in March 2017 with completion date slated for March 2019.

Challenges Encountered

Although implementation of the project is on schedule and on budget, it has not been without its fair share of challenges. The biggest challenge, according to Arch. Lenjo, was encountered during excavation for the foundation. This is because the site is quite tight and is bordered by two existing buildings i.e. Ngong Lane Plaza and Royal Blue Square. “We had to secure and stabilize the foundations of the two buildings because our excavations for the foundations were going much deeper than the foundations of the 2 buildings. The underpinning process of the two buildings took much longer as it had to done carefully to prevent any damage to the foundations of the two buildings,” he explains.

Post tension structural system

Arch. Lenjo adds that another challenge which is also unique to the project was the redesigning of the structural system using the post tension structural system. Post tensioning is a technique for reinforcing concrete with high strength steel strands called tendons. Post-tensioning tendons, which are prestressing steel cables inside plastic ducts or sleeves, are positioned in the formwork of the beams and slabs before the concrete is placed. Afterwards, once the concrete has gained strength but before the service loads are applied, the tendons are pulled tight, or tensioned, and anchored against the outer edges of the concrete structure.

The advantages of using this system in the project over the standard reinforcement steel bars design system are:

  • The building has less columns therefore users are able to achieve more clearance and flexibility with large open spaces between supports
  • Superior structural integrity as compared to precast concrete construction because of continuous framing and tendon continuity.
  • The high early-strength of post-tensioned concrete allows for faster floor construction cycles. The contractor will be able to erect the building faster
  • Reduction in overall building mass(lighter structure)

While the two key challenges have resulted in the project implementation team losing valuable time, Scope Design Systems is proud in that fact that it will be completed within the stipulated timeframe. “We don’t foresee any delays in the implementation of the project especially with the adoption of the post tension structural system as the main contractor also has experience and the necessary equipment to implement the system.” states Arch. Lenjo.

For Scope Design Systems, the successful implementation of the project is a major milestone for the firm which is determined to compete for bigger projects in the future as it seeks to stamp its authority in the industry.


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