FOR INTERESTING ARCHITECTURAL FACTS ABOUT STATE HOUSE (THE HOUSE ON THE HILL)
As we come to the end of the heated and prolonged political season, that involved the most contested seat, the presidential seat. The race to the house on the hill also known to be the Kenya’s power house was rather intense. However here are some interests facts that are not know of this historic building that is more than a century old.
- The STATE HOUSE was built in It was built on the hill because the colonialist had a fascination with hilly places. This was not only because of the stunning views, but also because they feared floods! That’s why Sir Grigg’s house was moved from the old PC’s office along Kenyatta Avenue (and a potential flooding area) to that House on the Hill. The colonialists loved trees and wide boulevards, and the red soil West of Uhuru Highway was appropriate. They never lived in the Eastland’s where black cotton soil was not conducive for creating shrubbery— the kind you find in the leafy suburbs.
- The Nairobi State House was built using the PALLADIAN ARCHITECTURE which is a European style of architecture inspired by the designs of Venetian architect ANDREA PALLADIO. Palladio's work was strongly based on the symmetry, perspective and values of the formal classical temple architecture of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. From the 17th century Palladio's interpretation of this classical architecture was adapted as the style known as Palladianism. Other buildings in the world that have the same architectural design include Drayton Hall in South Carolina, the Redwood Library in Newport, Rhode Island, the Morris-Jumel Mansion in New York City, the Hammond-Harwood House in Annapolis, Maryland and Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and Poplar Forest in Virginia.
- The power house was designed by the celebrated British architect SIR HERBERT BAKER (1862-1946). He was one of the most famous British architects of the early 20th century. Sir Edward Grigg, Governor of Kenya from 1925 to 1931, invited Baker to visit Kenya in 1925. As Baker wrote in his autobiography, Architecture and Personalities (1944), “this was for the purpose of giving general advice on building there, and to design some special buildings, a task for which my experience of building in the sub-tropics and on high altitudes should have qualified me. Some of his work included the design of South Africa House in Trafalgar Square, London, and of India House in the Aldwych, for some of his greatest achievements may be seen in those countries. In South Africa, he directed the rebuilding of Cecil Rhodes’ house Groote Schurz (now the residence of the President) and went on to design St George's Cathedral, Cape Town and, most notably, the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
- A Scottish architect, ARTHUR JAMES SCOTT HUTTON was the architect who oversaw the building of State House. He was recommended by SIR HERBERT BAKER who confirmed that although the two iconic projects in Nairobi were his (Baker’s) own designs, he had no doubts as to HUTTON’S ability to build them. Hutton was an architect working for the Imperial War Graves Commission, designing memorials and cemeteries. This was in honor of those who had fallen in defense of the empire in the First World War (1914-1918). Hutton’s handiwork is visible in France, Germany and the Far East, where many British soldiers and others from the colonies died.
Bonus fact. There are coins placed in the foundation of STATE HOUSE as a time capsule. Hutton’s daughter Barbara Margaret Dods together with her sisters Joan and Marigold were made by their father to clean these coins.