MEP Engineering Award of Excellence: Britam Tower, Nairobi

Ian Duncombe
Board Director
chapmanbdsp, London

Integrating Façade and MEP Strategies for the Local Nairobi Climate

The MEP system of the Britam Tower was the result of an environmental engineering approach intended to take advantage of the surprisingly benign local climate – Nairobi, 142 kilometers north of the equator, is nearly 1,800 meters above sea level – to produce a distinctive design. The “veil” façade solution – consisting of 50-millimeter-square ceramic rods in front of a full-height glass curtain wall with “selective” glass letting in more light than heat - allowed for natural ventilation on all office floors and good daylighting across 80 percent of the largest floor plates. Some 24 percent of the façade is openable, with two levels of openable windows on each floor allowing flexibility for tenant control.

Potable water, comprising five-day storage, helps with mains-water supply disruption, while rainwater is harvested in the form of separate non-potable tanks, which are utilized via a boosted distribution system for toilet flushing. Sensor-controlled taps are provided in the toilets, and the lifts in the tower core have destination control. A bore hole allows for extraction of up to 8,000 liters of water an hour, which, coupled with a large storage facility, helps the building remain independent of the notoriously unreliable utilities. Two generators provide full support and backup for the landlord and a significant number of tenants, with space provision for a third if needed. The car park’s basement and ground floor are mechanically ventilated and upper levels are naturally ventilated, with a provision for a data center to be added on the upper level.

View Building on The Skyscraper Center