Thermal Comfort in traditional and contemporary Buildings

1.1 BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Magadi is a small town in the Kenyan Rift Valley, only 36km from the border with Tanzania, 56km (in a
straight line) from Kajiado and 120km south west of Nairobi on the southeastern edge of Lake Magadi,
which occupies the lowest elevation in the basin of the Rift Valley of southern Kenya (fig. 1.01).
Surrounded by 104 sq km of Soda Lake and vast natural salt flats, it lies on longitude 360 18’ E and
latitude 10 52’ S and it’s just 595 m above sea level. This area is known for being one of the hottest and
driest places of Kenya and for its pinkish mirror-like soda lake.
A tarmac surfaced road links Magadi to Nairobi and a rail line links Magadi to its port terminal at
Mombasa some 600km away. A journey to Magadi is to enter another world as you enjoy the
spectacular views of the dramatic Rift Valley and you will have the sensation of driving to the centre of
the earth. The surrounding countryside for many miles is semi-arid bush, while the air temperature
gets hotter every minute and you glide through the arid and moonlike landscape of the Rift Valley
escarpment. You come to think that this journey will never end - and you don't want it to end as it
gives you an exhilarating sensation of freedom.
The baking salt plains that finally open before your eyes stretch into horizons of shimmering heat haze,
while the shallow lake heaves with the pink waves of nesting flamingo. The otherworldly atmosphere is
compounded by the intense heat and the isolation. It is often very hot in Magadi - you drop down
approximately 1060m going from Nairobi to Magadi. The general landscape in the lake is stunning
because of the wonderful colors of its soda water and its bird life
 

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