Unlocking the Heights: The Safety and Splendor of Rooftop Swimming Pools
In the evolving architectural landscape of Kenyan cities, a striking trend has emerged—rooftop swimming pools adorning the summits of commercial buildings. This modern design concept, borrowed from some of Africa’s leading economies like South Africa, Nigeria, and Egypt, has found its way into the skylines of urban Kenya. The motivations behind this trend are diverse, ranging from the scarcity of ground space to aesthetic considerations and the growing demand for privacy among clients.
According to Moses Gitau, the lead structural engineer of Newgen Construction, the safety of rooftop swimming pools hinges on meticulous structural calculations and design. The key lies in ensuring proper load transmission from the ground to whichever floor the pool is situated. Gitau emphasizes that these plans must be integrated into the initial architectural designs rather than treated as an afterthought once the building is complete.
Several establishments in Nakuru’s central business district have embraced this trend, especially three and five-star hotels. For instance, Bontana Hotel, strategically located adjacent to Kenyatta Avenue, has opted for a first-floor swimming pool. Chris Komen, the General Manager, explains that some patrons prefer the seclusion offered by indoor pools, making their facility an ideal choice. The added comfort, facilitated by a heater, contributes to the appeal for holidaymakers seeking a private and warm swimming experience.
Taidy’s Hotel, a three-star establishment along Oginga Odinga Road in Nakuru, takes the trend to greater heights—literally. Their swimming pool graces the seventh floor, a decision born out of space constraints for expansion. Chinese and Kenyan engineers collaborated in the meticulous process of fitting the pool on the seventh floor, complemented by a vertical car parking bay spanning from the ground to this elevated level. Ensuring safety and leak-proofing, the hotel management, and engineers prioritized proper drainage, water circulation, and purification, as highlighted by Gitau.
Engineer Gitau stresses the importance of using the right waterproofing materials in the construction of rooftop pools to prevent leakages. Taidy’s Hotel manager, Sylvester Muli, echoes this sentiment, emphasizing their commitment to safety and leak-free swimming experiences. Architect Paul Muteru, who designed the eight-storey Taidy’s building, underscores the critical role of integrating swimming pool construction into the initial architectural plans. When executed with precision, using the right materials and adhering to accurate physics, the weight of the pool and water is seamlessly transferred to the building’s foundation, mitigating the risk of leakages.
In Nairobi, the trend extends to commercial buildings like the illustrious Sankara Hotel, boasting a rooftop swimming pool. Even in the realm of residential architecture, upscale homes in Nairobi, particularly in Kileleshwa, showcase the integration of rooftop swimming pools for prestige and opulence.
As these aquatic oases rise above the cityscape, it becomes evident that the safety and functionality of rooftop swimming pools rely on the collaborative efforts of architects, structural engineers, and mechanical engineers. Meticulous planning, adherence to safety protocols, and the use of quality materials are imperative to ensure that these elevated pools not only provide a luxurious escape but also stand as testaments to the evolving architectural marvels gracing Kenya’s urban skylines.