Designs for the museum

© Jotham Njoroge
This year the Bildad Kaggia Foundation requested the Department of Architecture and Building Science at the University of Nairobi to propose a design of a Bildad-Kaggia-museum dedicated to Bildad Kaggia. The department then initiated a student competition.

Our exhibition displays the best entries in this competition. They may also be seen at the Goethe-Institut Nairobi. We would like to invite you to comment on the designs and, via the online-forum, take part in a discussion about architecture and remembrance.

Prize-winners of the competion are:
First prize: Anthony Opil
Second prize: Linda Nkatha
Third prize: Jotham Njoroge

Anthony Opil - The Circle

The Circle

The circle, Bildad Kaggia and pre-colonial Africa share common character...simple, African, humble, free, focused, infinite, dynamic, protective, spiritual.

The white man’s straight line imposes itself on the circle; disrespects it…fights what it stands for. Bildad Kaggia and Africa change.

The Mau Mau fight to re-link the circle: freedom! But the circle is now only circular.

The pillars of freedom (basement) openly describes those who truly fought and stand for Kenya’s freedom, those who fell during the struggle…and those who took undeserved credit though didn’t/ don’t hold Kenya’s freedom ( park above basement)

The design respects the land , and those who fought for it back !

Jotham Njoroge

Concept and Explanation

The wall of departure begins the story with a depiction of men, young and old, leaving their homes and loved ones so as to go to fight back for their land.
The simple straight form of the wall provides an easily interpretable backdrop for the artwork and the linearity leads the eye to the next feature...

The wall of war continues the story. Artwork depicting a war scene. Adjacent to this, a queer “hole in the ground”.  This carved out depression has a schizophrenic character. On one side you have the straight wall, on which part of Bildad Kaggia's biography is displayed in an array of text and images. On the other side, it is particularly noticeable how graphic photographic images of the oppression of the freedom fighters are displayed across a jagged vertical relief.

At the end of the straight section of the depression, a 90 degree left turn leads one into a tunnel where the rest of Kaggia's biography is portrayed.
The underground nature of this section represents Kaggia's character of hiding and disappearing as opposed to his contemporaries, who chose to "fly high".

Emerging from the tunnel, one encounters a stained glass image of a woman weeping and her tears flowing into a river. On the base of this image, an inscription, "the tears we shed..." Alongside lies the remains of Kaggia's son. (As though the woman was weeping over him)
This piece forms part of the centerpiece of the memorial. Similar stained glass artwork enclose a 13m high abstract sculpture of a warrior sorrowing and weeping over the grave of Bildad Kaggia and his wife. "What a great loss for our nation"

So as not to leave the story hanging, the messages depicted in the stained glass images form a story that has to be read by piecing up the inscriptions on one with its counterpart across the mausoleum area.
The tears we shed... Bear happy fruit later (Image of a Mugumo tree beside a river, the same river that flowed from the tears of the woman)
Peace... Comes at the price of war (a youth resting under the shade of a tree vs an imposing figure of a warrior about to strike)
To fight for land... For the future generations (an empty landscape vs children playing in a more vivified one)

From this climax, one's attention is drawn towards the "Timeline Wall", a smooth-dark-reflective granite vertical plane that contains in brief the important events that outline a timeline of Kenya's struggle for independence.
Right across, Bildad Kaggia's modest home, an irony considering the important role he played in fighting for Kenya's independence.
I guess for him, his reward rested more in seeing his fellow countrymen free and enjoying the restitution of their land. That's part of what makes him a hero worth remembering though the built form.

Linda Nkatha

The Drums

I want to tell a story about Kenya’s untold History…. Events right before the brutal British colonial rule to events during and after colonialism.

The Kenyan drum is my inspiration in this project.
The drum (a symbol of music and merry making) captures the happy moments Kenyans enjoyed before the coming of the white man.

By breaking the drum by slashing it in small bits and using these drum pieces to mould my museum space shows the broken happiness of the Kenyans during this brutal rule under the British.

By holding these broken drum pieces together to mould my spaces symbolizes the unity of Kenyans especially the maumau warriors to which these museum is dedicated to.

Nyandiko Otieno Frederick


As I begin to explain the concept behind the design of this museum I would like you to visualize it as a sculpture placed on the land, a sculpture that is both a museum and a monument, and that just by looking at it from the outside one is able to tell the Kaggia story.

Without necessarily going inside. A building that can be appreciated on both the outside and the inside.

My concept is based on Kaggia's life and the major events that shaped it. I divided Kaggia's life into six major phases based on a chronological order that then defined the organization of the spaces and the form of the museum.


I thought of a flower. A flower has very many opportunities in design. A flower which has not yet blossomed can depict the Kenyan minds when the British came and colonized them. They took their every word and lived by it. They were comfortable and did not ask any questions about this or that. They were the white man's puppets.
Like this poppy flower which looks very miserable, that is how the Kenyan people ended up being. No land and still not asking questions! Then a man named Bildad Kaggia who was not afraid to ask any questions. Like the rose flower whose petals, when embosomed, look very beautiful, Bildad asked questions that made the other people wonder why?
One person can make a difference. Just like one rose flower out of 10,000 dead rose flowers can stand out.
When Kaggia started to ask all those questions and the solutions started to make sense, his mind slowly started to open up like an Echinacea Purpurea commonly know as the Purple Coneflower. This flower ironically comes from North America. There are nine known species and it is suspected that all have similar medical properties.
Bildad Kaggia was like the purple coneflower I was the field who was ready to get the land back for Kenyans! But people also started to listen to Bildad and the rest of the other people in the Mau Mau resistance. And finally they became a beautiful garden of purple coneflowers.

One can see the way the petals of the flower droop. This is what I used to get the form of my museum. The petals drooping create the dome like structure and the center part is the shape of the stem. So it was like two purple coneflowers joined to one stem which is what now the final form of the museum is.

the Shield

'Let us guard that which we gained, through the sacrificial loss of lives- of a people in dire desire of 'True Freedom'

As we are vulnerable to constant attacks on our freedom, (from both within ourselves and without), but the conscious and continuous state of being alert as not to fall prey is all in our hands

'As a leader, trading in true freedom for 'false freedom'- self centred enrichment is stabbing your own people in the back'

The shield stands as a symbol of protection, and yet ironically a clear statement and realisation that the user is vulnerable without it. Reflection on Kaggia's character informs issues of scale and proportion that play the key role in the moulding of my built form.... modest yet profound he was... wouldn't allow the spotlight to land on him, for the strides taken towards freedom and achievements he was part of. Keen on relating with people, where real happiness can be found and not agreeing to be party to the flittering away of the gains of independence, or lining his pocket with money meant for the poor. The building thus reflects these; in it's form, material nature, scale and proportion.
The Curvilinear form; an expression of freedom, not being constrained to a set of presets,

'I determine who I am and who and what influences as I becoming that...'

The Galleries to open fully into the courtyard where 3dimension renderings will be positioned both permanent and commissioned works, the exclusion the wall as the prime definer of space goes expressing the open and all-inclusive culture that Kaggia stood for....

Designed to direct the user round through the experience of the museum, with the genesis being at the gate and car-park, and the termination of the same at the curio shop, where the visitor has a choice to obtain a souvenir, as he or she contemplates having a snack at the snack shop

The courtyard effect, meant to be a subtle distraction from the built form... it's not about the building but the reason behind it.

Circulation to play a key role in the organisation of spaces... Main entry to be centralised for example, to allow a wholistic appreciation of the monument... that really is not...

Several minor focal points to be erected within the courtyard to diffuse attention from the built form... the commisioned art to play a key role in the realisation of this effect.

The Mousoleum's form ties in subtly with the rest of the built form the main separating factor being that it exists as a separate entity...
colour and choice of material
earth colours and local material to be used, fired brick and local rubble to feature mainly.
scale and proportion key.
The users will be able to relate with the building at a close and 'intimate' scale such as low ceilings and overhead beams... The building does not overwhelm... Split leveling also effectively used for the realising of same effect...
as a tribute to a man who loved nature... a flowing connection between the open and the built form, plant canopy to play a key role in establishing a continuity as one moves from within to without...


The slot shaped openings are made between the sloping walls to admit light into the interior forming a pattern of white strips all through the gallery. Minimal outward glimpses are possible.

The ceiling has suspended arrow heads symbolizing defense put up by the warriors in fighting for land and freedom.

A paved walkway connects the museum entrance to the mausoleum, marking the beginning and end of a journey through Kaggia's life.

Concrete sitting areas along the walkway serve as reflection spaces.

From the mausoleum, is a stream of water running on a series of polished marble steps engraved with names of all Kenya's freedom fighters.