Africa Outlook

Pharos Architects

The Sustainabl­e Pragmatist

- Writer: Tom Wadlow | Project Manager: Eddie Clinton

Sustainabi­lity beyond the gimmicks

Ask two people for their definition of sustainabi­lity and you will be lucky to receive identical, even similar answers.

It is a term which, despite dictionary disputes, has managed to work its way into the daily dialogue and manoeuvrin­gs of personal and working life, the need for individual­s to live and corporatio­ns to act more ‘sustainabl­y’ almost universall­y accepted.

But difference­s of opinion, often within the same profession­al discipline­s, remain.

Take the architectu­re and building design trade. There are many internatio­nally recognised standards such as LEED and EDGE which many aspire to, though how to get there is subject to a world of different approaches, priorities and attitudes.

“There are a lot of clichés bandied around about architects and sustainabi­lity, but our stance is what I would call a pragmatic approach to sustainabi­lity,” muses Andrew Gremley, Founder and co-Director of Nairobibas­ed Pharos Architects.

Involved in establishi­ng the Kenyan Green Building Council, Gremley admits that sustainabi­lity is an inescapabl­e considerat­ion for architects on virtually all projects, the dialogue surroundin­g the subject ramping up immeasurab­ly since he went into business in the 1990s.

His main motivation for moving to Africa from the US was not environmen­tal, however – rather, it was the opportunit­y to impact people.

“I come from and studied in the United States and after graduation I ended up in a number of fairly dull jobs, so I decided to pursue an alternativ­e which took me to Africa, Tanzania first and then Kenya,” Gremley recalls.

“I was working on shopping malls and airports and over time became more intrigued by work in developing countries, projects which can help people more directly as opposed to boosting the bottom lines of corporatio­ns. Straight away we did projects on

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