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Photographing Landsdown Center, Karen | Mutua Matheka

Photographing Landsdown Center, Karen

2016.03.02_KAREN_AMA final--20

Earlier this year I got commissioned by AMA Architects to photograph a building they had just completed in Karen, Landsdown Center. The building is in the Karen shopping center right next to the post office and opposite Quepasa?

“The central atrium space was the principal organising space, so we chose to create a small atrium garden, open three storeys to the roof. This lends an air of bringing the outside in in this modern take on the neo-colonial style of design.

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We needed to maximise on natural lighting, as well as create an enabling environment for natural air circulation to minimise the need for artificial cooling during the summer. Both of these were achieved in principle by using the central atrium space. The space is open through to the top and is only covered fairly high by the restaurant roof at the roof terrace level. This allows in a fair amount of reflected natural lighting to the central axis of the building, while at the same time creating a modified stack effect to let out warm air at the top.” said the architect, Aleem Manji.

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I have photographed more of Aleem’s designs before (I will blog about them soon), so I know his designs will have a unique feature or style that unites the whole building or makes it stand out. In this case, it was the use of wood against the white washed walls. Visually this is exciting and the main aim for me after seeing this was to make the wood stand out against the white. So throw light on the white and capture the rich texture of the wood.

Second thing is that this building is more portrait oriented than landscape oriented. I felt like most landscape format photos didn’t quite capture the verticality that the atrium emphasised. Also, because I was capturing an unoccupied building, the architecture and not the contents were the focus. Also, each floor is double volumed meaning it has a lot of space to capture vertically than horizontally.

Third thing is the light. This space is very light and airy. All floors are “double volume” and the airiness I felt in the space had to be shown and seen in the photos.

One of the things that I do to bring a sense of scale to spaces like these is have someone in the shot as a ghost (like the photo above) to show what size a person is in relation to the space. It’s a visual measure to help make sense of everything. Most times, I’m the one in the shots since I shoot on a tripod anyway.

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Access to roof.

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Roof gazebo.

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Spaces inside. Double volume and lots of light from the open atrium and huge windows.

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Top Floor space.

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Rooftop Space.

Like any project, there were a few challenges to shooting this project.

First is always time. I had a day to shoot this building. With just a day, you pray that the weather is fantastic, everybody supposed to show up, shows up in time & that you don’t have to be held up outside waiting for the authority to show up.

Second is power. I was hoping to capture some night shots but there was a power problem for the building and Kenya Power weren’t forthcoming. SO I had to scrape any ideas of night time shooting and get every shot while I still had day light.

Third is the fact that it is unoccupied. Generally when the building is occupied there are more opportunities for photos and spaces are filled up so emptiness isn’t a problem. When the building is unoccupied you have to find a way to scale down the huge space and bring life to a space otherwise lacking in life.

Last issue is mostly cleanliness. Most sites, and this too are cleaned up by the contractors team before I shoot. The problem is that the level of cleanliness needed for architectural photography is a lot more than what they offer. Many times I have to clean stuff off and dust spaces. Which is ok if you have time, which I didn’t have here. So as an architectural photographer I kinda have to have cleaning equipment to dust and wipe some surfaces before shooting.

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Emergency Staircase in the Back.

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Main Entrance.

Equipment used; Nikon D610 + 14mm f/2.8 lens + Manfrotto Tripod + Triggertrap remote on my phone to trigger the camera for still shots. That’s it.

Do have a fantastic weekend ahead. God bless you and keep you.

  • Jared G. Maina

    Amazing images Muts! Nice tips too. One question-is photo #2 a pan? It’s quite an intriguing vertical landcape’ish’/portrait 🙂

    • Thanks Jared. No, that one specifically isn’t a panorama. Some of the external are but not that one.

  • savvykenya

    Love the open spaces and the large windows..

    but what does “neo-colonial style of design” mean?

    • Hi Savvy. That part of the design was the most pleasing to me too. Neo-colonial style is based on colonial style of architecture. If you look at most of the buildings that were designed in colonial times, they have a few distinctive features. This was inspired by that but with a modern twist.

  • JoeNancy Mararo

    This is great. The blue sky favoured you. I did not see a long Establishing shot of the entire building. I think it would have been amazing.

    • The blue sky was fantastic. The reason I didn’t capture or share that is because it’s a squeezed space. It’s almost impossible to get one unless you shoot on a day when there’s no one. Tough for this place. Plus it wasn’t totally finished. I always work to get the shots that look amazing and not necessarily to tick off a list of shots.