Nairobi, Kenya, 2020
Area: 2383 m2
Did you know that …
Nairobi got its name from a Maasai phrase meaning “cool water”, referring to the river, which flows through the city? It takes shape of streams and cascades running through Karura, the largest preserved forest in the country, home to treasures of Kenyan fauna and flora, encircling MGallery Gigiri.
The surrounding nature and the owners’ precious gemstone business were inspiration keys that shaped the interiors of a premium boutique hotel – the mythical jewel in the crown of an urban forest.
Reflection in Our Design
The forest almost streams into the contemporary see-through and asymmetric crystalline building through a lush green entrance – a smooth transition point from the outside in. Gems, crystals, greenery, light and water are central components in this elegant aquatic forest metaphor.
Organic, geometrical shapes and colors are placed in the lobby, referencing jewels, presented on a minimalistic background of light grey walls. Light is reflected and diffracted through glass walls and elements with dichroic film, which defines the refraction of color and causes an ever-changing game of light, while adding an unexpected artistic feel.
We brought the forest inside even more with a sky lit atrium space, filling it with water and large banana trees. An open-air bar extends into the building. Glass partitions can be folded in good weather to allow air into the hotel. Dramatic design combining glass transparency, iridescence, greenery and cutting edge technology unfold around the bar to shape an enchanting aquatic dream.
Reception and bar counters are made of transparent glass bricks – prisms with a mirror surface, which cause a “wow” effect. Soft touch and comfort are introduced through upholstery of intense, vibrant colors on furniture with smooth and curvy lines.
In guest rooms, the atmosphere here is even more welcoming and soothing. Precious gemstone colored furniture stands out on warm white background of surrounding walls. A specially designed system of prisms and spotlights behind the headboard gives off a magical effect on walls. A colored stripe of glass in the bathroom wall continues the interplay of light, changing the room atmosphere throughout the day. The glass is transparent on one side and frosted on the other, ensuring privacy.
The swimming pool area invites guests to submerse in the cool waters in the daytime, making use of the deck chairs placed directly in the pool. This, while observing mesmerizing effects of water glowing on the floor surface through a glass sidewall. ln the evening, the bar turns into point of attraction. Artistic pieces and illuminated green plants frame the pool and create an unusual atmosphere of intimacy and comfort for events here, with light installations causing unexpected effects on the water surface.
Key Points for Success
When working on a luxurious 5-star hotel in Nairobi, distance is crucial. Bearing in mind, that builders and manufacturers are not as highly qualified as in Europe, designers had to work out a design, that was not only easy to live in, but to build as well. Especially given the fact, that construction took place simultaneously with design project development. Thus, layouts were often changed, yet the concept remained.
Given the status of guests of the future hotel, design solutions had to be spacious and multifunctional. The conference rooms, in particular, provided the hotel’s proximity to the UN Africa headquarters, major NGOs and international embassies. A variety of F&B concepts implied the presence of multiple restaurants with different cuisines to satisfy even the most refined taste.
S+S team worked carefully to introduce references to Africa that were not too obvious, revealing these in subtle details such as carpets, art and decorations, such as metal and fabric fringe, that appears here and there.
Mostly local materials and suppliers were used in order to save budget and retain a sustainable approach. An abundance of green shades, live greenery and local organic materials, such as shells, emerald, marble, gold and wood magnify the beauty of naturally occurring earth and water elements.
As with a multifaceted jewel, depending on the light and standpoint, each glimpse reveals new colors, making MGallery Gigiri, flagship hotel in Africa, a comfortable and sophisticated haven.