For the last 36 years of his practice, Architect Allan Simu has stuck with Mutiso Menezes International (MMI) and worked his way up from a fresh graduate architect from the university to the current position of Managing Director of the firm, which he has held for the last 18 years.
Architecture wasn't his choice though. Allan wanted to be an engineer – a decision he made due to admiration of a technician friend of his father at Kenya Railways as well as his father himself who was a telecom technician. He was also brilliant in Physics and Mathematics.
He was introduced to architecture on joining the University of Nairobi in 1969 where he was admitted. Although he had no background in drawing, he liked the blend of science and art which is a relative discipline to his first interest, engineering.
He graduated with a B.A. Architectural studies in 1972 and joined the City Council of Nairobi during where he worked on projects like Kenyatta market and Huruma housing estate. He also enrolled for his Masters in Architecture and graduated in 1975.
In 1977, Allan joined MMI. He was introduced to the firm by Dick Stevens, a Canadian studio master working with MMI. The firm was then recruiting locals as part of government policy to have west dominated company recruit and train native Kenyans. He was also eager to work with his role model, David Mutiso, who was a director at MMI.
Allan registered as an architect in 1976 and is a corporate member of Architectural Associations of both Kenya and Tanzania since 1979. He was the registrar of AAK from 1982 to 1985 and vice chairman from 1986 to 1987. He became a board member of BORAQS in 1994 and was elected a fellow architect of AAK in 2001.
He is also a partner at Mutiso Menezes International Developers (MMID), a different entity from MMI that comprises of architects involved with land development on a mission to exercise quality architecture while creating affordable structures to give best value for money. This initiative is aimed at bridging the gap between the end user of the building and the architect.
Allan has been involved in many completed projects at different capacities in MMI including:
Kakamega Telephone Exchange and Post Office in Kakamega. He was the design architect. The brief of the project according to the client's brief was a well ventilated technical building which would besides personnel, mainly house cab
Egerton University campus projects. Projects involved refurbishment of the laboratory and workshops as well as expansion of the administration, library, hostels, kitchen and currently the physical sciences complex unit. This is one of the biggest projects that he has been involved in. His major roles here included conceptual and preliminary design as well as development and supervision in regards to his capacity as the managing director of MMI, the firm working on the project.
Komarock Estate – This housing project was designed with a courtyard concept creating a neighborhood of 250 units' low cost residential houses for the low income end user.
Butabika Mental Hospital in Kampala, Uganda – It was a rehabilitation project and the most interesting element was the impact the change of the living conditions in the hospital made to the patients upon completion of the project.