Empowering entrepreneurs: Startup Lions Campus

147_Startup Lions Campus_facade_image by Kinan Deeb for Kéré Architecture

Designed by Pritzer Architecture Prize-winner Diébédo Francis Kéré’s studio, the Startup Lions Campus is an information and communication technologies (ICT) campus, located on the banks of Lake Turkana, Kenya. The project responds to the pressing challenge of youth unemployment faced in the region by offering high-level training and access to international job opportunities, allowing young entrepreneurs to thrive professionally without having to leave their place of origin.

The campus provides 100 new workstations and is the first step in an ambitious vision of spreading ICT networks in remote areas. The project celebrates the unique morphology and natural beauty of its site. Five linked buildings are built over two levels following the natural slope of the terrain, and feature extensive roof terraces with sweeping views over the lake. Inside, the building contains a mix of classrooms, flexible workshops and co-working spaces, alongside storage, administrative and technical facilities. The roof terraces are shaded by creeping vegetation, providing pleasant outdoor meeting spaces and opportunities for the informal exchange of ideas.

147 Startup Lions Campus outside view 02 image by Kinan Deeb for Kere Architecture 1

In a nod to the principles of nature, the project takes inspiration from the towering mounds built by termite colonies in the region. Tall ventilation towers create a stack effect, naturally cooling the main working spaces by extracting warm air upwards, while fresh air is introduced through specially-designed, low-level openings. This system allows the campus to withstand high temperatures, and is especially well suited as it prevents dust from damaging the IT equipment. In addition to their functional role, the towers also create a distinctly recognisable landmark in the surrounding landscape.

The campus is built out of locally sourced quarry stone with a terracotta-hued plaster finish. In choosing which materials and construction techniques to use, ecological sustainability, cost, and availability factors were weighed to arrive at the best compromise. Collaboration with the local community was key in this decision-making process, drawing from their experience and expertise.

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