Surface Design Awards: Light and Interior Surfaces

ARUP was founded in 1946 with an initial focus on structural engineering. They first came to the world’s attention with the structural design of the Sydney Opera House, followed by its work on the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Arup has since grown into a truly multidisciplinary organisation.

John McAslan + Partners say about themselves ‘We aim for an architecture which is rational and poetic, robust and delightful; we tread carefully and build with conviction; we tackle problems head on and think laterally; we deconstruct a brief and let a design emerge from close examination of the pieces; we don’t necessarily take ‘no’ for an answer; we believe the power of architecture extends much further than the dimensions of individual buildings; we believe architecture is about making life better.’

The brilliance both ARUP and John McAslan + Partners  was recognised by judges Ab Rogers, Tina Norden, Bethan Wood, Jenny and Sacha Leong and awarded the Light and Interior Surfaces: Surface Design Award 2017.


Completed at the end of 2015, Sacred Heart Kericho Cathedral is located in Kenya. It lies within the Highlands, west of the Great Rift Valley, enjoying magnificent views across the surrounding hills. The Diocese was established in 1995 and has a growing congregation.


The Cathedral’s design creates a unique space for the 1500 strong congregation. The strikingly inclined roof and its ascending interior volume were the key characteristics behind its design.

The aim was to create a structure that integrated seamlessly within its setting, in both aesthetic and functional terms. The Cathedral’s tiled-roof is now a distinctive feature of the rolling hills of Kericho.


Ease of construction and the use of local resources were key drivers for Kericho Cathedral. All the materials that were used for the ceiling, doors and furniture and the clay tiles in the roof, were locally resourced and fabricated, including the Cypress timber, which was grown in Kericho. The granite used for the sanctuary was sourced from Kenya, and the soap stone used for the statues was sourced from a town just south of Kericho.

A key ambition was to minimise energy use, and consequently, reduce the building’s maintenance cost and obligations.

Congratulations to ARUP and John McAslan & Partners on their well deserved award for an outstanding project, the judges commented that there was a ‘great contrast with the external view – unexpected in a good way’ and ‘it’s used traditional materials but the way it’s put together is very beautiful.’


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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