Press Releases

SOM City Design Practice Plans Two New Communities in Sub-Saharan Africa

SOM was appointed by Rendeavour, Africa’s largest urban land developer, for master planning services in connection with Jigna Eco-Community in Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria. Rendeavour also commissioned SOM to undertake the master plan for Tatu City CBD in Nairobi, Kenya.

SOM brings significant experience to these opportunities in Africa.​ The firm's track record includes such landmark projects as One World Trade Center, in New York, and Canary Wharf, in London, as well as the master plans for the Phu My Hung Community, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, King Abdullah Economic City, in Saudi Arabia, and the Baietan Urban Design Master Plan, in Guangzhou, China.

Jigna Eco-Community – Abuja, Nigeria

Master planning an exemplar sustainable mixed-use community in the capital city of a rapidly growing nation

“Jigna addresses the challenges presented by Abuja’s rapid urban growth with an ambitious, world-class scheme,” said Daniel Ringelstein, Director of Urban Design and Planning at SOM. “We were excited by Rendeavour’s vision to create a model sustainable community that promotes a tranquil lifestyle in an environmentally stunning location just a short commute from Abuja’s city center.”

Jigna, which sits on 757 hectares of land bordering the Outer Northern Expressway of Abuja, has already received preliminary environmental and planning approvals from the local authorities, allowing construction to commence. The project is centered on the protection and enhancement of the site’s unique natural terrain, as well as providing a sustainable model for future urban communities in Africa.

“Our partnership with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill is a landmark agreement for Jigna and Rendeavour,” said Yomi Ademola​, Rendeavour’s Nigeria Country Manager. “Sensitive and comprehensive strategic planning is the bedrock of forward-thinking urban development and we are certain that SOM’s global experience will allow us to create Abuja’s most attractive urban development.”

SOM has prepared a Concept Master Plan for the site, working alongside a comprehensive team of locals with decades of experience in Abuja, as well as the Toronto-based firm Moriyama & Teshima Partners. This plan was followed by a detailed plan for Phase 1 of Jigna, including a set of overarching development guidelines for the future community.

Tatu City CBD – Nairobi, Kenya

Designing the urban core for a new city in one of Africa’s most significant emerging economies

Located 16 kilometers northeast of Nairobi, the new 160-hectare Central Business District forms the heart of Tatu City, creating a vibrant new destination for the wider region. With a complementary mix of urban living, work, and leisure opportunities supported by world-class public amenities, the project represents a model district for this city of the future.

“Nairobi’s subtropical climate makes it ideal for outdoor living,” said SOM Associate Gareth Edwards. “Our design promotes walkability and an active street life and puts an emphasis on quality public realm to enhance livability in this new urban environment. An animated retail district employs a mixture of open and semi-enclosed spaces, which take advantage of the fantastic weather.”

A kilometer-long linear park over the soft rolling terrain connects north and south, with important civic buildings anchoring either end. Amphitheaters support outdoor performances while civic ponds and water features also provide stormwater retention and drainage. Eco-trails set within the peripheral green reservations act as a counterpoint to this civic park, incorporating the sacred mugumo tree as a focus.

To enrich the design, SOM and Rendeavour engaged with students from the University of Nairobi by hosting a three week design charrette and competition. Two winners were awarded sponsorship for a study tour based in SOM’s London office.

“It is important for us, as an international developer, to localize our projects, and the students have provided a Kenyan perspective on our plans,” said Nick Langford, Country Head for Rendeavour. “The levels of talent exhibited by all the students are highly commendable, and for those who will not be traveling to London we are offering select opportunities for internships at Tatu City in 2017.”

About Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) is one of the leading architecture, interior design, engineering, and urban planning firms in the world. Since its founding more than 80 years ago, SOM has earned a reputation for design excellence with a portfolio that includes some of the most important architectural accomplishments of the 20th and 21st centuries, and has been a leader in the research and development of specialized technologies, new processes and innovative ideas, many of which have had a palpable and lasting impact on the design profession and the physical environment. The firm’s longstanding leadership in design and building technology has been honored with nearly 2,000 awards for quality, innovation, and management. The American Institute of Architects has recognized SOM twice with its highest honor, the Architecture Firm Award—in 1962 and again in 1996. The firm maintains offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Mumbai.

About Rendeavour

Rendeavour is Africa’s largest urban land developer with over 12,000 hectares (30,000 acres) of visionary projects in the growth trajectories of large cities in Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, and Democratic Republic of Congo. Rendeavour’s vision goes beyond alleviating what is a self-evident problem—that of stifling urban congestion and a dearth of quality housing and commercial property in Africa. Rather, it aims to help create the infrastructure—the living and working spaces, communities, schools and hospitals—that will help sustain and accelerate Africa’s economic growth, meet the aspirations of Africa’s burgeoning middle classes, and serve as a catalyst for further urban development.