The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) sort to rejuvenate the lush and evergreen Kereita forest so that it can self-sustain. As it later would be, the forest, deserted but one of the healthiest in the huge span of the Aberdare Ranges, has come to be known as the one-stop destination for adventurous and thrilling outdoor activity. Thanks to a partnership between the country’s forest management body and a foreign investor, The Forest is now one of the top stops 45 minutes away from the bustling Nairobi city for adventure seekers.
Sitescape Studio, a small firm located in Nairobi and headed by architect George Arabbu was tasked with the architectural design of the project in Limuru, Kenya. The result is a treasured mid-size building, captivating in style, but most importantly a pivot from which you will see breathtaking views of Kereita forest far and beyond.
As you pull into the designated parking area, it is easy to notice the building as it simmers lightly between the lush green ground and the landscaped roof. The building buries itself into the greenery with a landscaped roof utilized for both its architectural aesthetics and contextual fit.
The site slopes, albeit steeply, from the entry point to the backside of the building. It is from the rear that you get to absorb the stature of this project. It bulges into the forest from one side to meet the opposite side as a terrace from which adventure seekers can interact as they absorb the extensive views into the forest.
The terrace leads to a staircase that provides access to the forest, to ensure connected movement and easy circulation from the forest to the terrace and into the restaurant. The restaurant, which is the largest space in the building, is awash with daylight from floor-to-ceiling glazing to provide visitors with amazing forest views as they indulge their meals.
The tiled floor and detailed skirting breaks from the normalcy of most local interior designs. The interiors are minimalist to maximize on glazing and views to the forest. The furniture is modest but good. And so is the ceiling.
The cultural connection is something that was thought of by the architect. It can be seen from the flooring and skirting to the counter-tops at the bar and the little hangings from the ceiling. It is a battle to fit into the local context while utilising timber to connect to the nature that vastly surrounds the project.
The project is not big; and rightfully so. The resort provides paint balling, zip-lining, archery, mountain biking, tree planting, horse riding, camping and other outdoor team building activities. There was therefore no need to put up a huge structure here except for one that would adequately house a restaurant and provide shelter to the visitors during adverse weather.
The Forest is an adventure centre that has seen so much attention from the local Kenyan market as the citizenry seek more outdoor spaces away from the busy Nairobi city. It is a fresh breather for most people despite its location featuring foggy and misty mornings and evenings.
For the forest, it has been a great venture. The centre dedicates a share of its profits towards maintaining the extensive span of the forest. In 2 years, the adventure centre has planted over 20,000 trees into the areas that had faced deforestation from the neighbouring communities, and yet more is to be done. At the heart of all this adventure, Sitescape Studio manages to give a precious architectural piece to the context to crown an important historical forest; impeccable proof that architecture doesn’t have to get rid of nature to survive, they can coexist and be mutually beneficial to each other.
Architects: Sitescape Studio
Location: Kereita, Limuru, Kenya
Photography: Siegmund Photography