Johnson Mwangi: On what it takes to become an architect

Johnson Mwangi: On what it takes to become an architect
  • PublishedJune 7, 2023

Johnson Mwangi, popularly known as architect Mwangi, is popular in Kenya’s real estate industry, thanks to his social media presence. Mwangi, now in his late 20s is the CEO of MoSafe, an architectural company that specializes in the entire spectrum of construction and real estate. He spoke with CECILIA ASHIOYA on his journey into the world of architecture and the Kenyan architectural space.

Who is Architect Mwangi?

I am the CEO of Mosafe Structures Limited, a successful company that has been running for over a year now. My role at Mosafe is coordinating design documentation, construction, and delivery of quality projects within budget and timelines. I am 28 years old, a father of one and I enjoy spending time with my family.

What sparked the idea to start Mosafe?

My drive towards creating a design-build company came immediately after I finished training as an architect. I felt like the industry could do better with a bit of discipline and also create a home where clients get all the services under one roof by facilitating the whole process from design to construction.

What are the qualifications for someone who wants to study architecture?

There are several ways one could get into the field. You can pursue a Diploma in Architecture or opt for a degree. Even though universities have different qualifications for this course, one needs to have attained C+ in all cluster subjects if you are self-sponsored. And if you are hoping to study the course through the admissions board you should be at the top of your class because it is highly competitive and rated highly.

Having said that, one should only study the course if one intends to practice architecture. This is because it is a fairly tough and long course that takes a minimum of six years of training.

What makes a good architect?

Good is relative, nevertheless, you need to be a leader because as a project manager and leader you ought to have good leadership skills. You must also be resourceful. It is always assumed that architects know everything so it is good to be on top of things. Finally, you must be a good listener. Listening keenly gets you in the client’s mind to see what it is they want to develop and translate their dreams into a cogent design.

What are some of the things someone wishing to venture into this industry should know?

The construction industry is vast, and depending on whether you enter the industry as a developer or consultant, you need to understand that it is a demanding field and that whichever role you play, you must always hold certain values. Moreover, you should be of good character, have integrity and be up to date with the laws.

What are some of the lessons you have picked from the field?

Always communicate with clarity, and be responsible enough to admit mistakes when they occur just as you would celebrate successes. I have also learnt not to be defensive when I make a mistake. Instead. I admit it and explore with the rest of the team how certain mistakes can be rectified, Listening is also crucial, one should listen twice and talk once to be responsive to the client’s requirements and other stakeholders.

What is your view on collapsing buildings?

Collapsing buildings are a perfect example of architectural mistakes. Several things can cause the collapse of a structure which is why an investigation should be carried out immediately. However, a building can collapse due to the negligence of various stakeholders (clients, contractors, or consultants). From my point of view, the huge gap between developers and consultants should be fixed.

What do you do to stay up to date or improve yourself?

An architect is a team leader of all the stakeholders in a project. They give guidance and direction. Research in this case is my daily mantra since I am required to be constantly up to date. It enables me to offer sufficient guidance and timely proposals. It is also my responsibility to stay innovative.

What are some of the challenges you have faced in the field?

The client’s failure to understand how certain projects should be run is one of the major challenges and also failing to appreciate the roles of the various professionals involved in a project. Also, the cost of construction in Kenya has ballooned leading to the stalling of many projects.

How do you handle negative feedback on your feed?

Any good designer ought to understand that art is highly subjective. What is good in my eyes may be ugly in another’s. If you understand this perspective, you will expect a variation of views. For me, I embrace all feedback to better myself.

Written By
Diana Rachel