The current technology employed in most buildings today emanated from the industrial revolution, and they were considered very advanced. Then, the materials used for building were bricks, timber, steel, and stone and tiles and slates for roofing. During the Roman Empire, they pioneered the use of volcanic ash as concrete, which was not widely known until the concept of reinforced steel was applied. In Rome, the Colosseum which was built using volcanic ash and stone is still standing strong. The use of volcanic ash can be compared to the use of cement today but the main difference is the volcanic ash cures in 42 days while cementing cures in 21 days.
In Kenya traditional houses were built using soil, cow dung, stiff sticks, and this was employed in all cultures. However, colonization by the British Empire introduced new building technology to Kenya. The colonial government administration offices were all constructed using very new technology than of using bricks, stones, cement, ballast, and sand. The Oman Empire at the Coast of Kenya introduced an architectural style of building houses heavily influenced by the Arab culture.
After independence, the First Kenyan President Jomo Kenyatta commissioned the construction of many housing developments to benefit the working class. He also set up various societies such as the Kenya Growers Union, Kenya Tea Development Agency, and the Kenya Coffee Cooperative Union. These societies were allocated prime land at the heart of Nairobi to set up their activities. The iconic Kenya International Conference Centre was also constructed during President Jomo Kenyatta’s time. At the time of its construction, it was the tallest building and was a very innovative design incorporating the use of many windows which was not common at the time.
Majority of the buildings in Kenya today are being constructed using cement, ballast, sand, and stones. Especially story buildings which are commonly constructed this way as they have to be strong to resist the elements. Recently though there has been a departure from the traditional and a new trend is emerging where warehouses especially are being constructed using a steel endoskeleton. High rise buildings are also being constructed using this technology to quickly construct a strong building.
The use of precast buildings has also started to take root as it is cheaper, and can be constructed faster. Once the floor concrete has been laid and cured, the panels can be laid in 3 days and finishing is done in another 11 days. It guarantees very fast construction that will not have too many logistical issues, which exist in stone motor technology.
The use of Expanded Polystyrene EPS technology has also been widespread as a cost saver to contractors and developers. The technology involves the use of a steel mesh as a reinforcer and has a polystyrene insulator that serves to save concrete. Contractors using this technology mold a house using these panels and the sprayed concrete of them to form the interior and exterior. The benefit of this technology is that it is cost-saving, the house becomes earthquake resistant and it can be done very fast by using fast cure cement.
So which one would you prefer?
Author: Sam Ndegwa
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