Termite mounds inform Startup Lions Campus design by Kéré Structure


Terracotta-colored towers that refer to termite mounds characterize the startup Lions Campus, which the studio of the Burkinabe architect Diébédo Francis Kéré completed in Kenya.

Located on the shores of Lake Turkana, the 1,416 square meter campus was built for the non-profit organization Learning Lions to offer young Kenyans free training in information and communication technologies (ICT).

It is intended to help reduce youth unemployment in the region and enable young people “to thrive professionally without having to leave their homes,” says Kéré Architecture.

Above: Kéré Architecture has completed the Startup Lions Campus. Picture above: It is marked by three tall ventilation towers

The design by Kéré Architecture for the Startup Lions Campus “celebrates the unique morphology” of the site, consisting of five interconnected buildings on two levels that follow the natural slope of the site.

It is built from rubble stones from the region and finished with a terracotta-colored concrete plaster. This technique was chosen because it is inexpensive and the capabilities of the local community can be used in the construction.

The Startup Lions Campus in KenyaIt is in a sloping location next to Lake Turkana

From a distance, the campus is characterized by three tall ventilation towers that the studio modeled on the tall hills built by termite colonies across the region.

Each tower helps cool the interior of the building by sucking warm air upwards as fresh air is drawn in through adjustable, low vents with woven straw screens. This technique is known as the stacking effect.

A building with a terracotta-colored plaster facadeTerracotta-colored concrete plaster covers the outside

Inside, the building offers a mix of classrooms, flexible workshops and co-working spaces as well as storage, administration and technical rooms.

It is complete with a series of rooftop terraces overlooking Lake Turkana and eventually shaded by planted pergolas to provide cool and comfortable outdoor teaching and meeting spaces.

A university in Burkina Faso lined with eucalyptus wood

Kéré Architecture uses local clay to build the Burkina Institute of Technology

“From the beginning, collaborative building and learning was at the heart of the project,” said Kéré.

“We envisioned an educational facility that would blend in with the impressive natural landscape and reflect the ingenious structures of the nearby terminus,” he continued.

“It is a special honor for me and my team to be able to shape this incredible educational institution and I look forward to seeing it grow and, most importantly, its students to be successful.”

A classroom on the Startup Lions campus in KenyaThere is a mix of classrooms and co-working spaces inside

Kéré Architecture was founded in 2005 by Kéré in Berlin. Recently, the studio also completed the Burkina Institute of Technology, which was built from local clay.

Elsewhere, the office is designing the parliament of Benin, modeled after African palaver, and the new parliament building of Burkina Faso, which Kéré said “responds to the needs of the people”.

The photograph is courtesy of Kéré Architecture.

Project Loans:

Architect: Kéré architecture, Diébédo Francis Kéré
Design team: Kinan Deeb, Andrea Maretto
Contributors: Juan Carlos Zapata, Leonne Vögelin, Charles André, Malak Nasreldin
Project management: Kinan Deeb
Engineering: BuildX Studio
Construction: BuildX Studio, Kyuna Road, Nairobi, Kenya
Client: Lions learn