The Alchemist
Backpackers Hostel
Location: Westlands, Nairobi, Kenya
Clients: The Alchemist & Distant Relatives
Size: 919㎡
Budget: $333K (Ksh 38M)
Year: 2021-Ongoing
Scope: Design & Build
Status: Ongoing
Partners: MEP Design

“Come as you are” is the ethos of The Alchemist, Nairobi’s creative event space, used by a diverse community of entrepreneurs in art, food, drinks, fashion, retail and music. 

We are leading the design and construction of a 40-bed backpackers’ hostel at the existing site of the Alchemist in central Nairobi. Building on the Alchemist’s ethos and values, our design aims to create a friendly space that invites people from all walks of life. 

The hostel is designed as a series of spaces and thresholds moving from public to private allowing the users to interact with each other, nature and the building’s use of sustainable and locally sourced materials. 

Our design is focused on protecting the existing green lung of the city that the Alchemist has managed to preserve since its inception. The existing trees have played an important role in the organic design of the public spaces with meandering walkways that create distinct margins between the natural and built-up areas.

The room typologies use modular design allowing for budget-friendly options that cater to public dormitories ranging from 8-bed, 4-bed or 2-bed rooms, to private single and double ensuite rooms. At full capacity, it will provide accommodation for 44 people. 

The project aims to be EDGE certified. Required energy, water and material efficiencies will be achieved through using low carbon materials such as glulam, using solar panels for hot water, and encouraging ventilation and sufficient window-to-wall ratio.  

Collaborating with our sister company, Buildher, the project will incorporate bespoke furniture that ties back to the ethos of our client whilst promoting the goal of empowering women in the construction space.