Featured workKTDA House (Chai House)

Until its demolition in the summer of 2014, the KTDA Chai House was the last widely visible and accessible proof of the lively Futurism, which, for a short, upbeat period, played a role in the urban, post-colonial Africa of the 1960s and early 1970s.

The self-confidence of an independent nation manifested itself in this building. Located in the centre of Nairobi, it represented Kenya’s greatest economic wealth after coffee: the KTDA is the tea growers’ interest group, who played a significant role in the decolonization process. Not satisfied with demonstrating their progressive stance with a mere modern office building, these representatives of modern agriculture treated themselves to a building extension in the form of a “flying saucer”: a round construction supported by a single column. The building’s annex harboured the popular New Florida Nightclub, where citizens of the Kenyan capital were able to celebrate themselves and their proud nation. Below it, a petrol station completed an unusual triad of building users. The building was included in a study by Basel-based architecture theorist Manuel Herz, who recently conducted a comprehensive study of Modern African architecture.

  • Digital print, 23.5 × 40 cm © Manuel Herz

    Architect unknown. KTDA House (Chai House), Nairobi, Kenya, ca. 1970