Richard Leakey commissions Sh10bn museum in Turkana

Celebrated paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey
Celebrated paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey. PHOTO/COURTESY
Kenyan paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey has hired world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind to design a Sh10 billion museum in Turkana, setting in motion a project that he has been promoting since 2015.

According to an article published by The Independent, a London-based newspaper, Dr Leakey engaged the Polish-American designer shortly after securing Sh300 million from Tullow and other oil prospectors in Turkana.

“I took Libeskind up to Turkana and had him see the place and listen to me chat, after which I asked, ‘can we do something here that will absolutely stand-alone and wow?” Dr Leakey told The Independent.

“He immediately said yes. He said it could be one of the most important things he’s done, and he’s terribly excited about it.”

Mr Libeskind, a man who has designed over 30 iconic structures among them One World Trade Centre in New York City, is expected to design a cluster of irregularly-shaped buildings stimulated by Stone Age hand axes and other tools unearthed in the area. The museum, which Dr Leaky calls ‘the cathedra’, will have a central hall soaring 15-storeys “above the desert” and the shape of the site’s footprint is the outline of the African map.

Although Mr Libeskind has undertaken several outstanding museums such as the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester and the Jewish Museum in Berlin, creating plans for the Turkana museum will be quite challenging considering that the development is located in a desert landscape.

Besides, there are no tarmac roads to the proposed site and there is no grid power in the area.

But Dr Leakey has confidence that all the difficulties will be overcome.

“Libeskind is planning a building run entirely from renewable energy with a zero-carbon footprint… We’re as keen to make the technicalities of the building as ground-breaking as its overall design,” he said, while conceding that the project will cost a great deal of money.

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