The construction work of a ‘green’ education facility in the honour of the late Nobel laureate Prof Wangari Mathai will begin next year.
Known as the Wangari Mathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies, the facility will be built on a 50-acre piece of land at the University of Nairobi’s College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences on Kabete Campus. It will be known as Green Campus.
“We aim to make this a functional and inspiring hub in the area of natural resource management and development education,” said Dr Kiama Gitahi, the institute’s acting director.
The design of the campus, whose structures are estimated to cost US$25 million, was done by a South African firm, dhk architects and approved in February this year.
“We hoped to present a vision of Prof Mathai by approaching the site, landscape and architecture in terms of long-term stewardship, sustainable management of resources, education and empowerment,” Dr Justin Snell, the lead architect said while presenting the design in February.
Dr Snell said the heart of the dhk design is a welcoming structure to be known as “the democratic space” whose tensile canopy roof is supported by tripod ‘tree-like’ columns that evoke tree planting activity and the three legs of the traditional African stool seen by Prof Mathai as representing ‘democratic space and ‘cultures of peace’.
Prof. Mathai died on Sunday 25 September 2011 at the Nairobi hospital while undergoing treatment for cancer. Her body will be cremated on Saturday and the ashes interred at “the democratic space” of the institution.