Dutch tech breathes inspiration to Africa’s construction industry

The idea of transferring modern technology to the African construction industry is gradually taking shape, starting with a suburb in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, where Dutch technology is infiltrating into the continent’s architecture ecosystem.

Dubbed Student Factory, the concept of concocting a thrilling learning environment for university students began in 2018, targeting 4,600 beds in the next 30 months.

An architect’s plan unveiled to the press at The Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi showed a spellbinding piece of art, depicting modern buildings that blend education with technology and religion.

“Our goal is to create an holistic lifestyle for sustainable development by setting a new standard for the construction industry,” said Chris Osore, chief executive of Student Factory.

Contributing to the government’s agenda of affordable housing, the project seeks to breathe architectural inspiration to the surrounding higher learning community that includes the Catholic University of East Africa (Cuea), Kenya School of Law and Tangaza College.

“This will be our launch project to showcase the professionalism we have built in Europe to Africa,” said Daniel Amian, head of development of Netherlands based developer RED Betonbouw BV.

The USD50 million investment that will sit on a 12-acre piece of land from the Kenya Conference for Catholic Bishops (KCCB), Mr Osore said, will be a one-stop-shop for all student needs, anchored on a farm-to-fork strategy making it a self-sustaining venture where quality meets affordability.

“Students will pay between USD100 and USD200 for various suites. We will have accommodation, library resource centres, innovation lab, wellness and fitness, sports, shopping, hospitality, laundry and an Internet of Things system,” he explained.

The student accommodation house design includes single rooms, two students per room and four students per room, complete with a kitchenette, dining area, microwave and Wi-Fi.

“The spaces at Karen Student Village will allow students to build robust communities that will last a lifetime,” said managing director of Tracom Services Paul Karuma.

An app that connects to these amenities will be available to students for download, so they can self-track their spending on various services.

But Mr Osore highlighted that while the project might have delivered 1,500 blocks by 2022, the area will still have a shortfall of 16,000 beds.

Electric power from the national grid will be supplemented by solar power and back-up generators while ensuring continuous supply of purified water from a borehole.

“Our plan is to construct 10,000 beds across Africa but we chose to start with Kenya. For students who may have affordability challenges, a plan is in place to partner with financiers to help such students enjoy the living environment.”

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