Mombasa, one of the oldest towns in Kenya has been on the verge of losing some historical buildings but, the new Mombasa Law Courts building dubbed Justice Tower, is doubly expressive for its Swahili and Arabic facades.
The magnificent new structure is adjacent to Old Town and the Marshrabiya finishes gives it a Swahili face marking it as a definite tourist magnet.
Marshrabiya, is an architectural element of traditional architecture in the Islamic world, but has been diminishing in the coastal town as new buildings take shape.
Taibali Hamzali, and architect and one of the Friends of Fort Jesus said new buildings are wiping away Mombasa’s heritage but he also encourages builders to retain the old building plans as they are eco-friendly.
“Marshrabiya comes with numerous advantages as they are mostly used in hot climes. They reduce the intensity of light entering a building and in the process, cool the interiors. It also provides privacy due to its sun screening function as only those within can see people and events on the outside,” he added.
The place of technology
Mr Hamzali said the Swahili designs in the new buildings even though not constructed strictly using original materials to lend them a natural look, the use of technology has helped to maintain the coastal designs at a cheaper price.
The Justice Tower boasts eight courtrooms and four mediation rooms, 11 chambers, spacious registries, and separate cells for males, females and juveniles.
Mombasa Law Courts deputy registrar Christine Ogweno said only the High Court and courts of equal status will be shifted, whereas the magistrate’s courts will remain in the current building.
“The Employment and Labour Relations Court will occupy the second floor because it is currently being hosted at the old court building, next to Fort Jesus,” said Ogweno.