Speech by Farhana Hassanali, CEO of HassConsult on the launch of ENAKI, Africa’s first experience-driven township in sensory botanical gardens

Ladies and gentlemen, members of the press, thank you for joining us today for the launch of Enaki, which we are unveiling today as a first in Africa, and as a new step in Kenyan real estate.

In fact, we have presented to you many times from the agency side of HassConsult, briefing all of you about property and land prices and their trends. That means that, for some of you, the scale of HassConsult’s activities as a developer may be much less familiar. Yet, at Hass we have been trail blazers in Kenya’s real estate industry for now several decades, and across our own growing portfolio of developments.

To offer a brief echo of the kinds of changes we have led, we were, yes, the first to compile property and land data and to map the price trends in our sector. A decade earlier, we were the first to launch off-plan selling as a way of achieving project finance, thus accelerating Kenya’s real estate development in a tight capital market. We, more recently, led the way in land owner-developer partnerships, and have also continued to innovate in our own developments, repeatedly awarded as the leading projects in Africa in the Global Property Awards.

But, with Enaki, we believe we are undertaking our most innovative venture yet, because this project is not just about bricks and mortar – with this project we are building a spiritual haven. And in so-doing, we are taking a new lead in Africa, in what is being termed, in the global vanguard of our industry, as experience real estate.

For the reality is that lives and lifestyles have changed radically in the last two decades.

Technology has moved into our lives in a way that none of us foresaw. Families often all still live in the same home, but fewer of them meet over meals, and less often. Each member of the family will, instead, be constantly engaged alone, usually on their phone, with their own circle, interest groups, and even global clique; or surfing news, or sharing memes, or deep in Instagram.

Thus, our urban lives have become more isolated, less active, as well as more home-bound. In this, nature, exercise, the smell of frangipane, the sound of bird song, and of trees rustling in the wind, all of these things, have become a smaller part of our lives.

Our lives have changed in other ways too. No one in this room has even got as far as mid-morning today without sitting in a traffic jam. Is there anyone here who has come this far into the day on foot, without stepping into a vehicle?

We all spend longer in traffic, we inhale more fumes, we are plugged in close to 24/7 to electronic equipment, and while we are more home-bound than previously, the togetherness within our homes has reduced. Not the same long conversations, fewer communal times.

And hey presto, anxiety has risen as a global issue, depression too. We are often depleted, and there is a reason.

Because nature, quite simply, and other people, and doing things, and doing things together, exotic, ordinary, and powerful scents, beautiful views and vistas, trees at sunset, and water cascading at sun rise, shared activities in amphitheatres and nature parks, cycling, walking – all of these experiences are simply proven to make us one thing: happier.

And happier is proven to deliver another thing: healthier.

Which means that the leaders in real estate are now looking to whole new horizons. The big deal in modern and even futuristic living isn’t all about the tallest, or the highest density, or the newest, or the prettiest building – our new chalice is the real estate that makes people happiest.

Thus, with Enaki, we were given a project that began with a donation of land, set aside for public use as a public park, and from there our mission was to create a township that made residents happier.

We pursued designs and forms and means to give them better lives, and equip them with more spirit with which to weather the next traffic jam and the one after that.

In short, a spiritual haven. And thus the name.

Enaki is a combination of two words.

The EN comes from the word Enso, which is a sacred symbol in the Japanese school of Zen for a circle of togetherness. Other translations are the circle of life and connectedness of existence.

This idea drove the designs for our new township from the very first conversation.

The AKI is then drawn from the Maasai word Koiyaki, which means ‘one of good heart’, and is a nod to the man who made this new township possible as his legacy, the late Dr Munyua Waiyaki, our former Agriculture Minister.

For it was he that donated the land for the new sensory botanical garden that lies at the heart of Nairobi’s newest township.

Based on this beginning, and this concept, it has been our enormous pleasure at HassConsult to undertake the project creation that sees us today launching Enaki as a world first – an experience-driven township of and in a sensory garden.

For the gardens, we searched the globe for designers who were specialists in designing botanical gardens and, most specifically, sensory gardens. The result, the Five Senses Botanical Garden is the first sensory garden in Africa, designed to stimulate and delight every human sense.

We have shared the designs with you, and many of the details of the shadow walkways and aromatic rooms, the gazebos, water features, and facilities from nature park to cycling routes.

It is a proven fact that such gardens de-stress people. And the Five Senses Botanical Garden is being created as a public park.

However, with our donated land transformed into a new asset for Kenya, we didn’t stop there in creating a new kind of township.

We removed all the cars, and pedestrianised everything, by building in underground car parks. The carparks for residents are underground. The carparks for shoppers are underground. The cars are gone once you enter Enaki. But reaching them is swift.

Then we looked at the homes, and built a circle of them, in our circle of togetherness, homes for young, single people, homes for families small and large, each type of home was designed to make easiest the things that make each demographic happiest. We even put in homes for older couples with adult children having flown the nest, and the elderly, in need of assisted living. We built services on-call, and restaurants to deliver from within Enaki.

And then we created all the facilities and services to serve our lifecycle circle, with paved and tree lined high streets filled with boutiques and coffee shops, a town square, and a town that residents and visits can walk in, or cross in the free golf carts.

In Enaki, residents can head to the gym or to business pods in the woods. They can stroll from the high street down to the dance studio, or just sit in a gazebo, or beside one of the township’s many waterfalls and water features.

And from dawn to dusk, and dusk to dawn, at Enaki, Africa’s first ever sensory garden will bloom, and delight.

In a new kind of township, in the new Kenya, in the new Africa: where experience is all.

 

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