KICC Building Kenya

KICC Kenya – Penis or Flower Inspired?

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This article delves into the captivating history of the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi, Kenya. From its inception in the 1960s to the distinctive architectural features that defined its identity, let’s explore the details that made KICC Kenya a unique piece of the city’s skyline.

The Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC

The Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC)

History & Architects Karl Henrik Nøstvik and David Mutiso

The origins of KICC Kenya can be traced back to the commission by Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, and the Kenyan African National Union (Kanu) Party. Norwegian architects Karl Henrik Nøstvik and local architect, David Mutiso were entrusted with creating a four-story headquarters, a vision that evolved when the IMF and World Bank selected it as a conference venue. They say Mr Mutiso was employed Karl Henrik Nøstvik to work on the project under Mr Mutiso’s management, hense David Mutiso bein ‘Chief Architect’ on the project.


Karl Henrik Nøstvik

Karl Henrik Nøstvik


Architectural Concept Design & Mystery of the Donkey’s Penis

The architectural concept design of KICC Kenya sparked controversy, with speculations ranging from lotus flower inspiration to an unexpected claim that it resembled a donkey’s penis. There are some humorous articles and interviews with Mr Mutiso claiming the design was inspired by a donkey’s penis.  Beyond the metaphors, the complexity of the design process unraveled, influenced by various factors and artistic perspectives.

Structure, Materials & Interior

The structural brilliance of KICC Kenya, officially classified as a skyscraper with 34 floors reaching a height of 105 meters, paid homage to traditional African architecture with its terracotta facade. The interior showcased lavish elements such as red carpets, octagon columns, and a dominant use of timber.


Structural Octagon shaped columns at KICC

Structural Octagon shaped columns at KICC

The Amphitheatre

The amphitheater stood as a seamless blend of tradition and modernity, inspired by the African hut.


Red carpet inside the Amphitheatre

Red carpet inside the Amphitheatre

With tiered seating for 880 people, advanced sound systems, and multimedia capabilities. The Amphitheatre skylight perhaps inspired by a closed lotus flower

The Amphitheatre skylight perhaps inspired by a closed lotus flower


With a skylight that floods in natural like make this unusually for an Amphitheater as a lot of them do not have any windows, which makes this space nice and light. This theater served as a testament to both architectural elegance and functionality.


The Ballroom

Stepping into the grandeur of the ballroom, East Africa’s largest conference chamber, visitors encountered soundproof grey stone, natural wood, and lofty ceilings. It served as an ideal setting for international meetings, exhibitions, and elegant gatherings, accommodating up to 5000 people.

Largest Ballroom in East Africa

Largest Ballroom in East Africa

Lifts / Elevators

The unique lift design, with numbers written on the outside, provided a glimpse into the tower’s vertical transportation. The predominantly office-filled floors and the historic revolving restaurant that once graced the upper levels of KICC Kenya were integral to its past.



The story of the now-deserted revolving restaurant, which shut down in the 1990s, unfolded. The panoramic views it once offered, rotating 360 degrees in 76 minutes, were reminisced, regretting the missed opportunity to experience this architectural gem within KICC Kenya.


Deserted revolving restaurant at the top of KICC

Deserted revolving restaurant at the top of KICC

Final 2 floors

Ascending to the topmost floors of KICC Kenya, visitors discovered the helipad, repurposed as a viewing platform with 360-degree views of Nairobi. Marveling at the architectural foresight that integrated this space for both practical and leisure purposes was part of the historical journey.



The journey concluded on the rooftop of KICC Kenya, where the helipad provided not only a bird’s-eye view of the city but also a testament to the enduring legacy of the Kenyatta International Convention Centre.


Roof top Helipad at KICC

Roof top Helipad at KICC

Reflecting on the architectural excellence and unique features that made this tower, KICC Kenya, a true marvel, marked a historical exploration.

Roof top Helipad at KICC

A Timeless Architectural Masterpiece

The Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi, Kenya, emerges as a timeless architectural masterpiece that weaves together history, controversy, and cultural significance. From its origins in the 1960s to its transformation into a skyscraper, KICC embodies a unique blend of tradition and modernity. The controversies surrounding its design only add depth to its narrative, emphasizing the intricate interplay of symbolism and artistic interpretation. As a cultural landmark, KICC Kenya’s structural brilliance, lavish interiors, and adaptive spaces, such as the iconic amphitheater and ballroom, showcase its enduring legacy. The deserted revolving restaurant and repurposed helipad serve as poignant reflections of the building’s evolution. Standing on the rooftop, KICC Kenya symbolizes more than architectural prowess; it stands as a resilient symbol shaping the city’s identity and leaving an indelible mark on Nairobi’s skyline.



📐Russell M. Henderson is a practicing RIBA Chartered Architect based in Tanzania, East Africa.

🎥Russell (Architect Russell) also makes videos on YouTube , TikTok Instagram & Skillshare  sharing thoughtful, honest and pragmatic knowledge while working and living abroad.

Architect Russell Uncensored is podcast also available on YouTube, talking about an architect’s life unfiltered. The education of 7 years to controversial topics such as RIBA and ARB, to unusual architect experience abroad like in Bangkok and Tanzania. This is content never before released on any platform and you can only get it here first. The truth through the eyes of Architect Russell, unfiltered and uncensored.


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