Social media has been awash with videos and photos of a mansion constructed on top of an apartment, raising questions regarding the security of the structure, the designer and the tenants.
The penthouse behind Airport Tanners in Zimmerman, Nairobi, elicited mixed reactions, with a section of Kenyans opining that the landlord sought to utilise the space.
Others suggested that the landlord opted to construct his own house and, at the same time, earn an income from the four-storey house.
In an interview with Kenyans.co.ke, the owner of the building confirmed that the idea for the project titled Bradijon Mansion was influenced by her architect, who assured her that the idea was viable.
A photo collage of a penthouse located along Zimmerman, Nairobi.
“Actually, when you have one plot to build, I talked with my builder, Steven Maina, and told him my idea, and he liked it. He, however, advised that we could do the tenants first and then construct the house later. I had not seen it done before, but I trusted him since he’s been a professional for over 25 years. He told me it’s possible,” the owner, who asked to speak on condition of anonymity, stated.
“He asked what type of a mansion I wanted and I told him. He told me the cost, how long it would take, and we agreed on it.”
According to the owner, the building took four years to construct because she was in the US then, so the architect had to consult her at every stage.
Maina, who also spoke to Kenyans.co.ke, revealed that the construction was completed in June 2023.
To strengthen the building, he said that the foundation is of equal length and size to take the house’s weight. Additionally, the concrete blocks that make the foundation are square and laid out strategically.
The landlady preferred the location as she grew up in Zimmerman, next to ACK church and purchased the land to commemorate her upbringing.
She said the penthouse cost millions to construct and declined to disclose the exact amount.
However, the building consists of 40 bedsitters, which have been fully occupied since the building was launched.
“When the tenants were enquiring about the building, they were asking about a few issues, including security because of the location, but once they moved in, they don’t want to relocate,” she divulged.
Conversely, her mansion is intended to act as a retirement home where she will reside with her husband. The couple are blessed with children who currently reside in the US.
“I love it as it’s peaceful and I get to see the horizon,” she noted.
A photo collage of the exterior view of the mansion located on top of an apartment in Zimmerman, Nairobi
Speaking to Kenyans.co.ke, Alfred Omenya, an environmental Architect trained in architectural design, sustainable urbanism and development, explained that the building is a reflection of the situation in Kenya where land owners try to maximise profits while minimising costs.
“They needed accommodation and also needed to make money. If you have such property, the logical thing is to construct the apartment and then provide yourself accommodation in the house,” he noted.
“The structure means that they are bringing in a single user development unit into a commercial development. There are some structures which work very well with each other, but not all such as a rental house and a school.”
He added that urban developers seek to manage and regulate property development to ensure that all projects take place at an appropriate time and place while conforming to set policies or standards.
“We have people doing apartment block on 50 x 100 that is actually meant for residential. This person has shown the contradiction in a very poignant way of doing it,” he said, adding that it has already become a trend in various urban areas in the country.
Other than Zimmerman, Nairobi, the trend of building penthouses atop apartments is fast-picking at Ruaka in Kiambu County.