Elizabeth Njeri, a Fifth year Bachelor of Architecture student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology got an honorable mention out of more than 500 online essay submissions at the just concluded twenty-second annual Berkeley Prize Essay Competition, whose topic was Civil Buildings. She submitted the essay in collaboration with Stephanie Wanjiru, a Law student at Strathmore University. The duo were awarded USD2500 for their essay ‘For the Love of Museums’.
The Berkeley prize supports the study and teaching of the social art of architecture. The competition is open to undergraduate architecture majors in accredited schools of architecture throughout the world. The twenty-second Berkeley Prize Essay Competition allowed the students to partner with other undergraduate students majoring in urban studies or social sciences as they write on how to make civil building work.
Njeri and Wanjiru’s essay focused on Fort Jesus Museum in Mombasa and the Nairobi National Museum for an in depth study with regards to their genius loci, architecture and other important roles they play in the development of the society.
According to Njeri, who has a keen interest in social architecture, a civic building that puts its community at the center of its management and development is bound to be timeless and is never rejected, but always emulated and protected by the people.
“Civic buildings must accept that they have a duty to serve the whole community within which they operate especially in developing countries with plurality of cultures which are sometimes antagonistic to each other,” explained Njeri.
Elizabeth is currently the President of JKUAT’s Architecture Students Association. She recently completed a six-week internship in an International firm in Egypt, where she worked with a variety of consultants in a place where language was a barrier. Her internship experience helped illuminate the need to have collaboration between all the stakeholders involved in a project.
Njeri’s bias to Architecture was brought about by her interest in problem solving and finding a visual representation to the theoretical solutions.
“My long-term ambition is to offer apprenticeship opportunities to young aspiring architects as did Frank Lloyd Wright at the Taliesin and foster social architecture,” said Njeri who is also a member of the Association Internationale des Étudiants en Sciences Économiques et Commerciales (AIESEC).