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Friday, 28 August 2009

Eko Atlantic City - Lagos






So there it was; the brief details of one of the many new developments in Lagos in preparation for 2015. For those who are unaware; 2015 is the year when Lagos' population is predicted to hit 25 million therefore launching it up to the third largest city in the world.

I believe it is this same reason that has finally pushed Lagos officials to really start planning but most of all implementing their plans, as 2015 is only half a decade away. There is nothing better than physical change, and that is exactly what has been happening on the shores of beaches in Lagos.
Construction begun more than a year ago. The project which is expected to be on the same level of quality as that of the islands that belong to Dubai is expected to bring tourism to Nigeria and to solve some of the existing problems, as not only will the 'New City' "Eko Atlantic be built, but also plans have already begun to transform the existing infrastructure that surrounds 'Old Lagos'.

What is impressive about this project is the amount of international support and attention it is receiving, with experts and financiers involved in the projects in Dubai also providing advice and various other important persons participating in various political and federal issues.

Details:

Size:
Development area: 9 sq kilometres
Length: 7 kilometres
Amount of sand needed: 140 million tonnes
Developers: South EnergyX Nigeria Ltd.

The island is said to provide housing for 400,000 residents and 200,000 workers.

Here is the site: http://www.ekoatlantic.com/


*More info soon*

By Tumi Jegede

Sunday, 9 August 2009

New Kaduna Millennium City

Governor Arc Namadi Sambo the recently elected governor of Kaduna state has already begun his project of recreating Kaduna City.

He has outlined his "11 point agenda" to use ICT as "a tool to empower, reconstruct, restructure and re-engineer."

He also stated that "We are creating new city, new shopping mall, new markets, new hospitals and new ways of doing business, and by the grace of God, new ways of providing Good Governance and dividends of Democracy to our people."

After only just discovering this, I am wondering if the average Nigerian citizen is also aware of this, have they incorporated the opinions of the society they are catering for during the design and development of the project?

Only time will tell its success.

by Tumi Jegede
























Pictures : http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=765936

By Tumi Jegede

Badagry Express Way

The demolition of the surrounding buildings to the Badagry Express Way began early in the morning of July 27th '09.

A lot of trauma has been caused to the buildings surrounding the expressway, and their owners, as now they are forced to relocated, and have to wait until after the completion of the road to be compensated for damages towards their buildings.

The demolition is to prepare for the widening of the expressway, which is to have 10 lanes once completed.

One thing is that seeing is believing and the more that Governor Fashola has been showing us the more we are beginning to believe in him and his abilities.

I am sure many Lagosians and Nigerians alike are hoping that these changes are the first of many.

As for the expressway they can only wait until afterwards to determine whether the idea was a success or not.

By Tumi Jegede

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Lagos Vs Abuja

The relationship between Lagos and is a very strange one, some feel that Lagos has been neglected for the development of Abuja.

Abuja in return has the opportunity to learn from Lagos' mistakes and to provide a more refined and relaxed alternative to the hectic lifestyles associated with Lagos.

Nonetheless it is obvious that there is still a power struggle between Lagos and Abuja, in terms of opportunities and most importantly architecture. Whenever speaking to Nigerians, the response is usually that Lagos is the centre of Nigerian architecture yet a birds eye view highlights the chaotic patchwork that is its infrastructure and urban layout. Abuja on the other hand, though still young, appears to be much more structured.

A well structured environment is usually predicted by urban designers and town planners to be preferable to those where there is a sense of clutter, however a lot of people prefer the atmosphere of Lagos to that of Abuja, despite its shortcomings.

Is it possible that the character of a place can draw people towards it overriding the challenges associated with living there?

Is it that people are willing to tolerate electricity shortages, unclear street marking and bad road planning for the character of Lagos?? Other than finance required to live in a city like Abuja, are there other reasons for this bias??



Images from Wikipedia Lagos above, Abuja below.





By Tumi Jegede

The importance of wayfinding in Lagos: Layout, Landscaping and Light

Layout & Landscaping

If you have ever flown in a plane over Lagos at night, you may have observed the patchwork appearance of the streets and buildings which is made obvious when driving through these streets. Some describe the experience as exciting, others hectic, but I am yet to find a person who believes navigating around Lagos is easy.

Below are pictures of different cities, starting with Lagos, there are key factors to each city which I will identify.


Maryland, Lagos
Residential


Ikeja,Lagos


Near Murtala Mohammed Aiport road & Maryland


Looking at the aerial views of other cities in the world (below). There seems to be a greater sense of hierarchy, whether by the design of the buildings themselves, their positioning, their surroundings or the landscaping. This increases how easy the city is to 'read'; a term commonly used by urban designers. It basically refers to how easy a city is to understand, absorb and comprehend for a stranger or visitor.

Should large industrial expressways really be tearing into residential neighbourhoods?

The positioning of such roads can confuse the meaning of such spaces hence making it more difficult to read. Though there is a demand for large, direct roads near neighbourhoods from workers as a route between the workplace and home, however in the picture directly above, the expressway is a major road, which means that a lot of people who have nothing to do with the surrounding neighbourhoods will use it and pass through it, each disecting the neighbourhood numerous times.

Fortunately, most residents emigrate away from buildings closest to the expressway and so these buildings are now used for retail and office puposes instead.



Other cities

Amsterdam
City Centre and squares


Residential


Recreational


Facilities are grouped together, there is a greater sense of identity for each area in the city. Amsterdam is renowned for it's strict geometrical layout, this extends all the way from its residential layout to the farmland. Though some tram lines cut through some residential apartments, the use of vegetation can help to diffuse the sound from traffic and the apartments are a reasonable distance away from the roads.


New York

The grid layout may not a very interesting picture from the aerial view, but it makes navigating amongst the hundreds of similar looking apartment buildings a lot easier, considering that Manhattan has a very high skyscraper/high riser line, and the high amount of enclosure by the walls of surrounding buildings can create a sense of claustrophobia, further explaning the need for better navigation. The city of Manhattan is an example of well-handled claustrophobic spaces.

A few reasons for its success is:

- It's location, it's an island, which means the light quality is good, its several ports mean great inports,
- It's road network, the streets are clearly labelled in a logical order, using numbers instead of names and blocks instead of streets/lanes,
- It's strict road network of one-way systems, traffic lights, parking restrictions prevent loitering cars and inappropriate parking,
- It has multiple systems of reliable public transport,
- Adequate lighting during night-time,
- Many areas that open at night, so city is not deserted and the presence of people increases the feeling of safety,
- The city inhabits some of the most successful people in the country, wealthier people can afford to have better security as they are willing to pay more and risk less,
- Since the city is mostly for working professionals, the inhabitants often work in high rise buildings that are only a few blocks away, discouraging the reliance on cars, further minimising congestion.
- And more..

The protected 'Central Park' provides a basic human necessity to maintain a relationship with nature. Imagine living in a skyscraper all your life, in an apartment on the twenty-something floor, being accustomed to being so high off the ground and never once seeing a tall tree. The urban landscape of Amsterdam encorporates greenery practically everywhere, and makes the most of being a coastal country.

Plants can soften a very serious environment and bring life to dull geometric surroundings. Aerial views of Lagos suggest that the importance of this is not currently being appreciated, instead buildings are crammed to fill up desirable locations in Lagos.




Light

Light is vitally important in the world of architecture in cities, it can make a person feel safer, highlighted and watched or trapped in a box. It can make you feel warm, alternatively it can make you feel like you're a specimen under a microscope or in a hospital.

Still, without it there is no shadow, there is no line or curve, there is no shade or hue, there is no form and also there is no architecture. Hence it is a tool, which can allow you to manipulate the feelings of the person experiencing the space and the space itself. However the sun must sink, the moon must rise and night must fall. When this happens we must find another way to source light.

Artifical light is the obvious answer to this problem, usually only appreciated at night-time or in areas where the tasks being carried out require a certain level of accuracy. This transition between natural and artificial light is very important, for continuity, for safety and also for comfort. Let me ask you; do you feel more comfortable during the daytime or during the night time? The type of light is also very important.

In a city like Lagos, light is essential, since the current urban layout is slightly clumsy. A city of its size should allow strangers and visitors to navigate with relative ease around the city. Since this is not the case, and signage is still relatively premature, lighting of the different areas is even more essential.



Wayfinding

To highlight something is to bring attention to it, to make it stand out. If we cannot provide light to all the areas in Nigeria, we can at least try and highlight the differences between them.
A person visiting a city should be made to feel safe, it is no longer acceptable to warn people to look out for certain dangerous situations, the city must also do its bit to contribute to the safety of the visitor. It's layout should allow easy navigation, wayfinding, entry and exit.

Areas should be well defined; a business park should look like a business park, a primary school should look like one, a zoo, a shopping centre. This way those who are not interested in business do not wander into the areas concerned and get lost, through good exterior design and layout, wayfinding can become a lot easier. A person should not have to enter a building to know what it is inside of it. When a person feels as if they are unexperienced in a city, they are limited to the few places they know, and their friends know, then sections in society begin to form and people do not interact with different people. Some people will always like the idea of privatising their spaces however, if a city is to thrive, there must be diversity but what is more important is to welcome this diversity, not to segregate it.

By defining areas, we can minimise wandering; by minimising wandering it is possible for a city to have subtle private and public spaces. The private spaces once well labelled can repel wanderers and so only those whose destination is the space enter the space and thus it is better managed in terms of traffic. A good example of this is when neighbourhoods and their streets are labelled, this is a subtle way of controlling who enters the neighbourhood space as only those who live in the neighbourhood or visiting relatives in the neighbourhood will enter it.

The idea is that if a complete stranger can feel comfortable and safe enough to navigate through the city, then it's better for everyone, including the locals.

by Tumi Jegede

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Linking the architect and the people

Advertising and spreading the word about a blog dedicated to Nigerian architecture seems like an impossible task. Why when there are several 'Naija' blogs, websites and groups dedicated to covering practically every aspect of Nigerian life, should such a blog find gaining popularity challenging?


Well, that is because it has been proven over years that architecture appeals to a niche group of people. We as architects believe we are essential and relevant, but yet to reach out to the average citizen and make an impact is a task we have yet to accomplish. People are happy to accept the idea of a secret society or a specialist group whom you encounter when you need to carry out a task in the built environment, but are we?

Nothing defines architecture more than its sole purpose, which is to serve the people. Like a democratic government, architecture should take into consideration the needs and desires of its client, its people, its target, after all it is the people who have to deal with the decision made by Architects and designers alike. A city should reflect the needs of its inhabitants and not just the dreams and aesthetic needs of the few select urban designers, architects and engineers chosen to 'design' it.


Still, centuries on, the idea of architecture is still outside the grasp of the common man, if we are to continue to develop and become better at our jobs, we must listen to the people. That is why I will always advise others to read magazines, be in tune with the world that engages with the built environment but mostly, I encourage us to ask questions and enquire about the views and opinions of its users. We must extend our arms further than halfway if need be to meet the people. We cannot just sit back and use the excuse that people will forever be ignorant, as that is like starting a project but not really understanding what the client wants, so it becomes apparent that we are in fact the ignorant ones. Something has to change, something really has to change, and I would rather emphasise this now whilst the problem is still relatively concealed than in future when it is not.


Photo from wikipedia.

By Tumi Jegede

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

2015, will we be ready?


Lagos is currently one of the largest cities in the world, with an impressive population of 18 million people living in the city. Every hour about 21 people immigrate into the city* which is not a surprise. Being such a densely populated and sought-after destination for Nigerians also explains why Lagos is a very dangerous city. Not in just in the simple sense of crime rates but also in the layout of the city. For a complete stranger Lagos can be hard to navigate around, this clearly highlights issues with the current infrastructure of the city.

The biggest problem for the city thus far has been its infrastructure, despite the recent admirable attempts to provide reliable public transport by the Governor of Lagos state; Babatunde Fashola, there definitely needs to be more done about it. Though it is refreshing to know that this surely is a good start. Nigerians will always welcome a good start.


The question is:

By 2015 when Lagos is said to become the third largest city in the world, will we be ready?

Will Lagos be ready for the predicted increase in the level of crime, the increased energy demand, food demand and other demands that its people are sure to make.

Feel free to share your views, opinions welcome from all types of people from all walks of life.

My personal opinion is that it has been long overdue that we take the planning of our urban areas very seriously. Decisions made by designers can no longer ignore the needs of the people.
Of course solving the issues is not an easy problem to solve but there should be a lot of consideration towards them and ignorance should be no longer acceptable.

It has been proven time and time again that people do not work around a situation they make a situation work for them. For example, have you ever noticed a large grassy field, have you noticed that there is almost always a diagonal path that cuts right through the field. As humans we don't always think about the end result of our actions, we cut through the field because we have somewhere to go, we trample over the grass, ignore the boundaries around the field and go straight for our destination. This is an analogy for urban design that does not take into consideration the needs of its users.

We have come too far to pretend that we are not aware.



*Info taken from research done by REM Koolhaas for his documentary LAGOS/KOOLHAAS

By Tumi Jegede

Monday, 3 August 2009

Are architects relevant in Nigeria?

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

In a country where science and maths have always been prefered to art and creativity, and the quickest route to a solution has always been prefered despite how rewarding or thorough the slower one may be. How do you justify and defend the increased costs for a project when most projects are limited in funding in the first place. And in a culture where home improvement or renovations come much further down the list and are overshaddowed by the desire to buy a new car, a city apartment, or some fancy clothes.

As Nigerians, we like to brag about our success, yes I am speaking generally, but it is true for some. Do we really care about how a house is built when all they really care about is the fact that it is built in the first place. Employing an architect most certainly is not the quickest and cheapest route to completing a project but the idea is that the quality of the project, the longevity, the cohesiveness of the team is much improved with one on board. How do we convince the general public, can we convince them?

When you ask your friends and family, what is an Architect? What does an architect do? Are you surprised that they are confused where to begin their answer, either that or they are quick to make the remark that 'all they do is draw right'?


What do you think?? Comment below.

By Tumi Jegede

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