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RIBA launches international design competition for the Masai Mara Conservation Centre

Find out more about our competition to design a tourist and visitor facility at the Oloololo Gate of the Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya.

16 April 2024

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has today launched an international open design competition for a new Conservation Centre at the Oloololo Gate, Masai Mara, Kenya, on behalf of Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy, the philanthropic arm of travel company Abercrombie & Kent.

The Masai Mara Conservation Centre at Oloololo Gate of the Masai Mara National Reserve is envisioned to become an innovative and engaging facility for tourists and visitors that aims to educate, inspire, and create awareness about conservation and the traditions of the Maasai people. 

It will serve as a focal point for visitors to the Masai Mara, providing an immersive educational experience that highlights the significance of the natural and cultural heritage of the area. From the spectacle of the great migration to the intricate coexistence of the Maasai people and wildlife, the centre aims to deepen visitors' understanding and appreciation of the Mara’s unique ecosystem. 

The primary objective of the centre is to educate visitors about the importance of conservation, biodiversity, and the delicate balance of ecosystems within the Masai Mara. The centre will be designed with sustainable principles in mind, utilising eco-friendly materials, energy-efficient technologies, and renewable energy sources.  

The architects’ design should respect and integrate elements of Maasai culture and heritage, creating a harmonious blend between the centre and its surroundings. 

Overall, the centre should offer a memorable and enjoyable experience for visitors of all ages. 

Cristina Levis, Chief Executive Officer, Abercrombie & Kent Travel Group said:  "A&K’s heritage is rooted in Kenya's heritage, passionately committed to conservation and honoring the Maasai culture. The new Conservation Centre at Oloololo Gate is more than a building; it's a symbol of sustainable tourism and environmental stewardship, aiming to protect the Masai Mara's natural beauty and cultural legacy. It reflects our vision of a sustainable future through eco-friendly design and education." 

The competition will follow the open design process with the first phase seeking anonymous concept designs.  Following evaluation of the entries, a shortlist of up to five designs will be selected to proceed to the second phase of the competition. 

The competition is open internationally to registered architects. Architects should be registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB) in the UK, or an equivalent, recognised overseas regulatory authority.  Collaboration is encouraged between individuals and organisations of different size, expertise and experience.   

View the full competition brief and for details on how to register here. The closing date for submission of design proposals is Tuesday 18 June 2024 at 12midday BST. 

Notes to Editors: 

  1. Media contact: 
  2. Competitions contact: 
  3. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment. Follow @RIBA for regular updates.   
  4. RIBA Competitions - Please ensure the RIBA is credited when mentioning the above competition.  RIBA Competitions delivers choice, inspiration and value to clients through expertly run competitive selection processes.  The dedicated RIBA Competitions team can help you explore the full potential of your project, for further information visit our dedicated page or email
  5. About A&K Travel Group Ltd. - A&K Travel Group is a global lifestyle and travel company that sets the standard for refined and personalized travel experiences. These include Abercrombie & Kent, Crystal, and Cox & Kings, as well as investments in other travel companies such as Habitas.
  6. About Abercrombie & Kent  - Geoffrey Kent founded A&K in Africa in 1962 with little more than a refrigerated ex-Army truck, and the best tents money could buy. Then, the company went by the motto 'off-the-beaten-track safaris'. A lot has changed in the intervening years, but we still want to take clients down the road less travelled. We win awards for not only our bespoke luxury holidays and unparalleled escorted tours, but also our philanthropic efforts to protect and preserve the places we visit. Nearly six decades later, with Geoffrey Kent still at the helm, we extend around the globe to more than one hundred countries on all seven continents. A&K has more people in more places than any other travel company with more than 55 on-site offices in over 30 countries.  Our long-standing networks allow us to uncover local secrets beyond the reach of most. Not much is truly impossible, and we ensure that your time away is the time of your life.

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