Design & Interiors

Top architect wants trees inside houses

Emma Miloyo Architectural Association of Kenya president. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG
Emma Miloyo Architectural Association of Kenya president. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG 

Emma Miloyo’s office is a rich art gallery from the floor, walls, ceiling to the furniture. The president of the Architectural Association of Kenya says she ‘‘snaps creative pieces from everywhere and has never regretted it.’’

We settle round an artistically curved table and rustic stools with architectural flair.

Everything around her office is a work of art including a miniature cactus tree surrounded by ocean pebbles.

Ms Miloyo is among the growing number of architects shunning concrete jungles in cities.

‘‘Kenyans must desist from constructing high-rise buildings all over Nairobi as this risks creating a concrete jungle without space for greening. We must plan properly and come up with buildings that support tree planting within the property as well as flower gardens,” she says.


Ms Miloyo is the first woman to head the male-dominated association which has quantity surveyors, town planners, engineers, environmental design consultants and construction project managers.

“Infact our class broke the record with a third of students being women and the top architecture student was a lady,’’ she says.

She runs a company, Design Source, with her husband Chris Naicca who is also an architect.

Her company, now in its 12th year, has handled projects in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. She is currently overseeing construction of a Sh1.2 billion 22-storeyed building that she designed with her husband.

She is part of a team that designed Delta House in Nairobi’s Upperhill that houses the World Bank. They designed a resort in Arusha and are part of a consortium working on Entebbe Airport ugrade.

Her firm has designed projects worth Sh20 billion both multi-residential and commercial properties as well as petrol stations, hotels and serviced apartments, she estimates.

Ms Miloyo says despite the field being male-dominated, what matters most in a woman’s ability to exude expertise.

‘‘Within universities, we are nearly at 50/50 in gender rations with men and this could change the landscape, giving women more say in how planning is done both for space and buildings,” she says.