Nairobi News


Forget donkey penis, KICC was inspired by ‘open and closed lotus flower’

The Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) is home to important government offices. It is also a renowned venue for conferences and special events such as music concerts.

Apart from being among the most environment-friendly buildings in the country, its proximity to major five-star hotels has made it one of the top destinations for conferences on the continent.

KICC started as an idea and simple sketches for a four-storey building.

Under the guidance of the first President of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta, the concept underwent improvements and culminated in the construction of the iconic 28-storey building that we see today.

In 1968, the ruling party Kanu approached architect David Mutiso to design a building that was to serve as the party’s headquarters.

Mutiso, an Alliance High School alumnus, was serving in the ministry of Public Works as chief architect.


He and Norwegian architect Karl Henrik Nøstvik came up with the building’s design. But contrary to Mutiso’s claims, he was not the lead designer.

His claims that he designed the building and drew inspiration from a donkey’s penis have also been debunked. In an interview with Africa Check, a non-profit fact-checking organisation, Jacqueline Resley — who was Nøstvik’s partner — said the Norwegian was the building’s main designer and that its iconic shape was inspired by the “open and closed lotus flower”.

Africa Check’s findings are supported by the building’s blueprints, which mention only Karl Nøstvik as the designer.

Work on the building, which cost the government Sh80 million, officially began in the late 1960s. Construction was in three phases.

The building’s podium was built in phase one, followed by the main tower. Its plenary hall went up in the final phase.

Construction was completed in 1973, and the building opened to the public in a ceremony presided over by the President in September of the same year.

For 26 years, KICC was the tallest building in Kenya, and it has been the most iconic structure in Nairobi since it was built.