Photo: Edward Kiplimo, Standard
By now, you are aware that the Standard Gauge Railway will start public operations in June this year. Much has been said about the track and little about the supporting infrastructure.
But before you can budget for the ticket (the price is yet to be set), we bring you firsthand images of the two world class main stations in Nairobi and Mombasa and the seven intermediate stations between the two cities. We also tell you what informed each of the station’s unique, architectural themes.
Nairobi South Railway Station
Located a few hundred metres from the Syokimau station, the new station encompasses the country’s social economic aspects as well as regional integration. The front depicts two trains with a bridge on top. It is an aerodynamic engine.
The bridge integrates the spirit of East Africa. Remember it is this railway line that opened up the region more than a century ago. As the second phase progresses towards western Kenya, SGR will contribute to this integration on a larger scale.
Athi River Station
This is the first intermediate station after Nairobi. The idea here was to design a station that maintains harmonious coexistence with its surroundings. Its contours emanate from profiles of the region’s hilly slopes. The elevation design is typical of local African architecture.
It introduces the big roof design of traditional buildings where a large part of the roof extends to the ground.
This station is expected to have a transport capacity of 237,000 people while the maximum passengers in waiting room will be 250 by 2035.
This station straddles two counties that have unique social, economic and cultural diversities. However, they have lived together in harmony for ages and are good examples of good neighborliness. Now you understand why the design is in the form of five fingers of the folded fist denoting unison or comradeship.
Apart from borrowing from traditional African architecture, the design of Kibwezi Station borrows from leaves. The eaves created by the ‘leaves’ are not just for aesthetic appeal but will also provide shelter for passengers. In addition, the shape will offer shade from the sun and natural ventilation thus reducing energy consumption.
The station is expected to have a transport capacity of 135,000 people while the maximum passengers in waiting room will be 150 by 2035.
Mtito Andei Station
From Mtito Andei, the Chyulu Hills and the distant Kilimanjaro come into view. It is little wonder that these natural elements inspired the design of the slopping roof. Mount Kilimnjaro as well as the Chyulus is at times shrouded in clouds, another inspiration to the mid-section of this station. Below any mountain is a forest, hence trees inform the bottom part of the station. The curtain wall on the front elevation is composed of thousands of prismatic glass patterns, forming interlaced and waved surface, which strengthen the visual image. Passenger delivery volume is expected to be 165,000 and passengers in waiting room will be 150 in 2035.
Tucked in the middle of the barren Taru landscape is a unique station whose name many may not have heard of.
Again, Africa’s cultural elements are at play here. Being in the heart of tourism country, the design adopted the Zebra’s strip element. The white and brown colours are synonymous with local characteristics and Miasenyi can only be termed as wild and vigorous.
The station’s passenger delivery volume is expected to be 119,000 while the maximum passengers in waiting room will be 150 in 2035.
The key words for this station are unity and harmony. The two façades form the V-shape of a person with raised hands. This is the spirit of “harambee” or pulling together, which was the rallying call from Kenya’s founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. It is symbolic of what can be achieved if all the 43 tribes that make up Kenya would all pull in one direction. In any case, the building’s V-shape is consistent with the station’s name – Voi.
The passenger delivery volume is expected to be 249,000 while the maximum passengers in waiting room will be 250 in 2035.
Were you excited to see a coconut tree as you drove towards Mombasa for the first time? It must have been around Mariakani. The new station will immortalise your nostalgic feelings since the design borrows heavily from the coconut tree. These ‘coconut’ porticos are load-carrying instruments, that support the large sun louver which functions as a sunshade and assists in passive ventilation in the core area of station. In 2035, the station’s passenger delivery volume is expected to be 249,000 while number of those in waiting room will be 250.
Mombasa West Station
A simple idea gave birth to what is perhaps the showstopper as far as the new station designs are concerned. What, you may ask does a ripple in the water have to do with turning a formerly uninhabitable piece of land, hemmed in by a steep hillside and the sea into a modern railway station? Everything. The station’s wavy and circular design was inspired by the ripples and tides of the ocean. Then there is the 58-metre view tower, similar to the one in the port city of Rotterdam, Netherlands. The tower acts more like the pebble that triggers the ripple in the water.