Business and finance

Sultan Palace commits to boost 18th century ancient art of Swahili architectural design

Mosque In Mali


Swahili architects skills date back as far as the early 18th Century. The art is now celebrated globally for it intricately elegant interiors design of its houses style.  The Carved wooden doors, shady courtyards, imposing entrance porches, magnificent and beautiful decorative stucco plasterwork makes unique and suitable for climates condition in the coastal region.
 Architectural design is most common in the coastal region and on Swahili buildings house style and mosques. Sultan Palace Development is now supporting the ancient art of Swahili architectural design in its upcoming coastal holiday retreat. Swahili crafts has sharply decline because of a shift in local tastes towards western styles.
 The taste of western style has a slowdown effect in tourism construction because of growing modernization and low level of local craftsmanship training in the country. Everyone young man and woman in Kenya want to train in modern techniques of Architectural design to get a job in modern architectural design field. This has led to the decrease number of craftsmen in the face of the ethnic onslaught of foreign architect.
 The taste of western style is key contributors to the decline of the sector over the last 20 years, according to a study by the University of Nairobi, Craftsmanship in Kenyan Informal Construction. Sultan Palace Development has now deployed leading coastal craftsman, Mr Said Swabu and a team of 12 young men, that he has trained in partnership with two Swahili Cultural Centres based in Mombasa and Lamu to watermark Swahili designs and skills deep into the fabric of the new coastal cultural arts.
 “The incorporation of this ancient craft is geared towards creating a modern fusion of the Swahili Arabic architectural design, giving an authentic yet modern feel, and offering an intimate atmosphere, and seclusion, with a sense of well being,” said Sultan Palace Development General Manager, Liu Tiancai.
The move is opening new youth opportunities at the coast. It comes as part of a strategic drive to create a uniquely East African coastal offering in the world of construction tourism. The manager argues building techniques are ideally suited to the coastal climate and environment. It has ability maintaining the cool atmospheres during the hottest periods of the year.
The composition of the material being used in the building includes: calcium and white cement is an extra elegant finish of the final products.  The craft suffered an acute decline in recent years with most home owners and developers instead incorporating western styles and techniques in construction of houses.
“Drawing on Swahili artisans in the architectural design will ensure that no one element of the development’s function, comfort, and environmental friendliness are sacrificed, but instead are developed in harmony,” said Liu.

According to Mr Said, the Swahili craftsman leading the Swahili team on the Sultan project, the decline has been further accelerated by the post election violence as a turning point for tourism in the country. This saw hotels retreat from upgrading their amenities, lobbies and public areas. He insists that it is the shift to western styles that has been the key to the decline of Swahili building design.
“It’s quite disturbing that most developers would rather import designs and building materials from western countries than make use of what is locally available. We are slowly killing our own tourism sector as we are not incorporating our own cultures and styles into our developments hence most tourists visit the country only to find their own cultures. This beats the logic of them visiting the country,” said Mr Said.
The shift has additional seen skilled artisans reduced to poverty depending on menial jobs for survival. Many of the artisans Mr Said has trained are now depending on other jobs like working as matatu touts. They work only when construction opportunities occur.
Mr Said previously worked on projects such as Chase Bank Eastleigh, in Nairobi, the Sarova Hotel in Mombasa, has been supplement his own architectural craft income by making Swahili themed furniture. He mainly sells to expatriates visiting the country. 
 “The Swahili craft is a skill that has been has been passed down through the generations from fathers to sons. I, however, am not planning to pass the skill to any of my seven sons at a time when the industry is dying,” he said.

Zanzibar stone-town-walking-tour
Sultan Palace Beach Resort have now decided to offer homes that are a maze of walls, corners, doors, niches, and tucked away areas capturing elegance at every turn. The rooftop views during the day will span the Indian Ocean and palm trees. The rare architectural mix is being finished with a striking, fine-grained marble coating to heighten the visual impact of the local artisans’ carvings.
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