As well as finding new homes for countless Zimbabweans over the years Kennan Properties have recently created a new home for themselves.
A family business, founded in 2004, their original home for many years was situated at 63 Central Avenue in the heart of Harare’s CBD. It was an elegant, older colonial style house with a central courtyard, a corrugated iron roof and a covered verandah at the front. It’s interesting to note that the Kennan’s loved the style of the first home so much that they’ve carried some of these features over into the design of their new home – although in an up-dated and more practical version.
Their new home is at 6 Borrowdale Lane – designed and built to perfectly suit their growing needs. It was an undeveloped plot with some established trees and in a great location. Vacant properties in the area are becoming increasingly difficult to find so when the land became available Kennan Properties
Have A New Roof Over Their Head was excited to realise the fantastic potential of the site. It’s so much more convenient for clients (and staff) who are becoming reluctant to travel into the congested city centre. Marje and Patrick Kennan sat down with Tammy Borchers from Fig Design Group to work out exactly what they wanted. There were features of their old premises – the style and the feel – which they wanted to reproduce, but the house also had some drawbacks, elements which they felt could be improved in the design of their new modern home. The old house, like many houses built at that time, had a central passageway with rooms leading off it and the individual rooms had fairly small windows so the interiors were quite dark. In addition, the access to the central courtyard was limited so the space wasn’t used to its fullest potential.
The new structure is designed in a squared off U-shape with three wings around a central open courtyard. All the offices have big windows opening outward to the garden and most have windows and doors facing the central courtyard. The doors onto the courtyard makes the interior open space easily accessible and more usable. Passageways, which are generally dead space, have been kept to an absolute minimum. Instead an internal wrap around covered verandah links The front wing of the building contains the main reception in the centre with one large office and the bathrooms off to the right.
To the left are two more large, private offices and a small meeting room. Behind the reception desk a pony wall partially separates the entrance from the courtyard behind and allows glimpses of the garden beyond. There are carefully selected and curated exhibitions of local artworks in the reception foyer which change periodically to add interest and to help promote local artists The two short walkways, rather than passages, at the back of the central wing have big windows onto the courtyard so they’re nothing like the old dark, enclosed passages in older houses.
The left wing contains a single large open plan office/training room which easily accommodates 12 desks. It has a central skylight and doors to the courtyard so it’s a light, bright, airy space. Windows on both sides allow for natural cross ventilation with no need for air-conditioning. The high ceiling follows the line of roof making it feel more spacious. The right hand wing contains a small kitchenette, a storeroom, a server room, an executive offiffiffice and a large boardroom which can comfortably seat 12 people. Pale laminated wood flfloors throughout link all the spaces together and add to the light, simple look and feel. The entrance porch and the wrap around verandah have sandstone coloured cement tiles supplied by Set in Stone, so they’re practical, low maintenance and add a warmer, earthy feel.
The entrance porch and the wrap around verandah have sandstone coloured cement tiles supplied by Set in Stone, so they’re practical, low maintenance and add a warmer, earthy feel. Work on the project started in May 2021 and was completed in March this year, with Stuart Moore from Worldpine Enterprises as the main contractor. Stuart Moore, together with Marje Kennan, acted as project managers. Marje also provided a lot of input for interior and exterior finfishes including light fittings, bathroom and kitchen finfishes, paint colours (assisted by Gary Ferguson at Quality Paints in Sam Levy village who gave invaluable advice on the colour scheme) and garden landscaping by Chantal Crouse garden services.
The front façade of the building encapsulates many of the main design ideas. The first impression evokes the feel of older, traditional houses with its pitched Chromadek roof, gable vents and the pillars supporting the little verandah at the entrance. The pale grey colour of the roof sheets and the exterior walls indicate that this is a contemporary structure rather than a copy of a traditional house. At fifirst glance the façade looks symmetrical but on closer inspection you notice the windows on either side are different – adapted to suit the purposes of the rooms behind.
The window on the left is quite large allowing light into the office behind, while on the right the windows are higher and smaller concealing the storeroom and the ablutions behind. The windows have white aluminium frames rather than the old-fashioned timber frames. The pitched roof over the entrance porch, with exposed trusses, is fairly conventional, but the glass gable behind it is a modern touch. It’s a careful and considered blending of old and new ideas, all put together in an elegant understated style.
To contact Kennan Properties, visit their new branch at:
6 Borrowdale Lane
Call: +263-242-251643/5 or +263-772-269-496
They still have a branch at Shop 25 in Sam Levy’s Village
Call: +263-242-885566 or +263-242-885568
text by Michael Nott
photos by Structure and Design