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Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Jean Prouvé - La Maison Tropicale

Late French engineer and designer Jean Prouvé and his "La Maison Tropicale" i.e. The Tropical House or a House for the Tropics. The prototype house was designed with 1950s colonial West Africa in mind.

I think there is a lot that can be learnt from this, and since his works date almost over 90 years, it is astounding the concepts that have continued to be repeated and used in this day and age.

The image shows his 'tropical house' which makes use of prefabricated elements, dynamic and movable walls and reflective surfaces.

Despite my worries about a large proportion of the house being constructed out of sheet metal, it is clear to see that this is a design that definitely responds to its surroundings, other than that it was and still is a creative and unique concept.

Since his death, "La Maison Tropicale" is an exhibition that has been toured in several different countries, 



More photos below:

 



















Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Blog Writers Needed!!

NigerianArchitecture.blogspot.com needs your creativity.

I am looking for writers for the blog, articles, if you want to have your say this is the place.

Please send your name and small paragraph application to tjdesignz [at] hotmail.com

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Hints of traditional Nigerian design

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Adobe Grain Storage

Even simple stores for grains can be inspirational in terms of building design.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

DEMAS NWOKO



Born in 1935, he practised as a master painter, artist and architect. He favoured the combination of the use of Nigerian Architectural motifs, and combined them with modern building methods.

A book dedicated to his works can be purchased at Amazon:



"The Dominican Abbey" 1960 - 1970



Friday, 29 October 2010

Our Builders cannot build our buildings?

I read somewhere that Nigeria's construction industry lacks skilled labourers.

Now I must admit that I was very shocked to have read this, because when you see the skill that is represented in other manual tasks such as carpentry, wooden carved sculptures and other 'hand produced' skills, we certainly do not lack, and in fact there is more talent that there is market for these things (in an age where Nigerians are neglecting their traditional products in favour for famous designerwear etc).

So, I wonder if where the truth to this statement is.

I took it upon myself to do a quick study of the type of buildings and construction projects that are currently being desired in Nigeria, and the vast majority of these are still the colonial-influenced homes, or even the now Americanized styled homes with the pillars, and porches and gateways.

So where does our local Nigerian builder feature in all of this?

I could not answer that question, I imagined that there would be a construction company that would offer training for these local builders so that they can catch up to date with 'modern' construction techniques, the type of techniques that are required to build skyscrapers in Abuja and mansions in VI.

So what is the advice we can give to our local handyman and builde? How are their skills being invested in, how do they make the necessary leap to land into the 'skilled labourer' category?

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

30,000 houses for 12 million Nigerians

A great article I found online at: The Nigerian US Embassy (in Abuja 2007) website gave me some nice insight into challenges of housing in Nigeria for most consumers.

It is not that there isn't housing in Nigeria, many Nigerian Property sites will have you believe that there is plenty of choice - and there is - if you have the money.

With a country which 'boasts' of stats such as 80% of its population living in poverty, it isn't unreasonable to claim that the average person could probably not afford any of the vast number of houses which are being frequently built in desirable locations such as Lekki, VI, Abuja and so forth.

The article begins with its first example of an introduction into the serious topic, by reminding us of the Affordable Houses policy which was initiated by Shehu Shagari in 1979, which had an aim to "meet the
nation’s housing needs", but was unable to do so because the provider of these houes - the government - simply did not come through.

Then afterwards, the 2002 Housing Policy reforms which actually accomplished some things, notably the 30,000 houses it has been reputed to have provided between 1973 and 2006 (33 years), however when you read further, you are met with the figure that there is in fact a real need for 12 million houses for Nigerians, and that 30,000 may be a fantastic figure, it doesn't really compare. This is approximately 909 houses per year.

Now, I am not critcising for criticising's sake - there is a point to be made.

Reading further in the article you find that :

"If we take the current population of 140 million Nigerians as reported by the National Population Commission after lastnyear's census exercise and assume 30 percent of the population as working adults we have 42 million estimated working adults; assuming about 45 percent or 18.9 million of the working adults
qualify for mortgage loans, and assume an average house final selling price at about Naira 2.8
million for a 2-bedroom flat, the possible size of the mortgage market is close to Naira 53 trillion.
Looking at the statistics we see that there are tremendous opportunities in the Nigerian housing
sector waiting to be tapped."

The article goes further to highlight the potential for the housing market for not just the government but more so individuals, and those who fall within the private sector.

Those who specialise in property development will find a way of acquiring investments therefore bringing forth a yield towards this market in the country.

Of course the system in which will allow people to develop properties, obtain land and legal rights and such will also need to be able to handle this 'potential for development', and that is where the state government needs to bring in their legislation to support this growth. Also, the system for mortgage acquirement will also need to be ammended to really acknowledge those who are at the lower end, those who may lie towards the  lower income line to obtain help from financial institutions such as banks, and to be able to acquire some rights to their very own property.

As mentioned by Ajibola Akeju in the mentioned article, the main points of consideration include:

1. Legislation
2. Registering Property
3. Risk Sharing
4. Absence of a National Credit Database
5. Stable Macroeconomic Environment
6. Knowledge Gap
7. Dealing with Licenses 
8. Taxes
9. Enforcing Contracts
10. High Cost of Building Materials
11. Infrastructure

More details can be read about these points at the original article location at:





Monday, 25 October 2010

Art-frican Deco

Do contemporary building designs exhibit signs of being stuck in the era of Art Deco, or are they reinterpretations of our vernacular exhibitionist, ornamental and 'big statement' african culture, you decide?



A good example of the application of ornament internally in a vernacular building.

I believe that this photograph defies the guidelines set in European Adolf Loos' essay; "Ornament and Crime" but of course it is expressed in its own unique identity and form, true to its nature, the northern Nigerian vernacular.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

The Importance of Ornament

In vernacular Nigerian archicture, the idea of ornament on the facade and interior of a building has always been key to the design of most places, however as we move towards the modernist era and of course the post-modernist era in which we find ourselves in now, there is a general movement towards simplicity and minimalist views.

Encouraged by findings and philosophies laced around the successes of the Japanese Feng Shui gardens, the desire to mimise waste and clutter out of our lives and the pursuit of sustainable low-waste architecture, it doesn't take long before one starts to look for traces of how these ideologies have influenced African, but specifically Nigerian architecture.

So I am asking you, is it possible to carry these ideologies towards Nigerian architecture to a place where they can meet and agree, or is Nigerian architecture, a source of architectural languages which evolve around identity - uniqueness - climate and hierarchy too different from this. If not, how does this western-powered notion translated into our own Nigerian architecture?

Friday, 22 October 2010

Nigerian House of the Future # 2

As part of the new series which has just begun at nigerianarchitecture.blogspot.com, I will be posting entries of what others think should be; "The Nigerian House of the Future" - unedited AND uncut. So after a good attempt by poster "ocho cinco", the follow up are some suggestions by "info@lpf" who posted: "A few basics:
1. Must include at least a 2 car garage, could be designed into the front of the house, side, back or off the front fence (like the French).
2. Must have a garden, preferably 2, front and back.
3. Smaller homes, more compact and highly functional. Less use of ground space. Setbacks people!
4. A whole house high pressure water pump. Every house has showers, but when was the last time you had a shower in a Nigerian upstairs bathroom? No more buckets!!
5. A central air conditioning system that is sustainable in Nigeria - split unit compressors almost seem to be part of design in Nigeria.
6. Perhaps #4 above will do away with those ugly water tanks built into roofs or hanging off the side of the house like an overstuffed molue bus!!
7. Generators sets that are optional, and truly standby.

I could go on, but I would give away some of our design trademark secrets. ;o)"

So NigerianArchitecture replied:
"Your suggestions are very very practical and they refer to the situation at hand, do you think in the future, let's say the next 50 years, this is the ideal direction for the "Nigerian House".
 
And the response to this was:

"Yes, I do.
Transportation, storage, functional spaces, planned landscapes, water and air distribution and energy efficiency are relevant today, and will ALWAYS be an integral part of home design. Truth is, no matter how we try to reinvent the wheel, it is already a perfect design. We may tweak a few items, but look at designs from the 1950's and from the 1900's - same issues then, as we struggle with today. Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian home designs have the same elements as home design today, 100 years later. Some Frank Lloyd Wright designs from the early part of this century are still considered modern by today's standards!

The discussions around the home of the future will, IMHO, focus primarily around spatial, elemental and textural challenges."



So what are your opinions about these 7 points given?

Do they inspire you about the future of what could be Nigerian Housing, are they realistic, or are they over-rational, are they just right, or limiting.

What do you think? Comment below:

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Lagos roads get health check

Governor Babtunde Fashola of Lagos state, last week initiated the "Gradual Upgrading and Replacement Infrastructural Renewal".

And I say about time!!

The assistant director in the initiative, Mr. Fola Adeyemi added that; "A comprehensive test would be carried out to determine what materials are best suited for a certain terrain and the extent of damage done to such road."

I am sure many professionals within the built environment believed that this should have always been the case. After all it doesn't make sense to start building when you don't know what exactly you are building on.

For all we know, the Nigerian government might have well been building on top of sinking sand all this time. (Since it seems as forms of progress seem to just sink or disappear).

Nonetheless, this is a great initiative, it makes sense and it is just what is needed. I just hope that we don't need another test in a few years time which involves "testing various materials and construction techniques on the terrain first before choosing a method and applying it".

As implied, this method of testing introduced will only be useful if the results are vital when it comes to decision making about urban layouts, materials, construction and maintenance schemes.

I think it is about time we admit that as a government, we have never been too good at upkeep, so durable, long-lasting (and potentially more labour-intensive) results should be our aim.

I will post another topic about the after effects of rain on our roads and options we can employ to tackle, and of course there will be a discussion topic to accompany this.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

What IS Nigerian Architecture? Part 2

When you search in Google for what is Nigerian Architecture, this is what you get.

 

My favourite example being the last image which is a building in Warri (if you know the name please write it in the comment box below).

I like it's boldness, and its fearlessness to stand out and shout that it is Nigerian, though not everything about is typically Nigerian tradition architecture, it borrows from both the colonial and traditional and to some extent even some modern too.

I will continue to update this post with more images, tell me what you think.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Goodluck arives in Anambra state


President Goodluck Jonathan has recently commissioned various construction projects in Anambra during his visit to the state this passing week, projects include:

A control lab by the National Agency for Food, Drug, Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in Agulu,
An assembly plant by the Innosson Motor Manufacturing company in Nnewi,
Anambra State University Teaching Hospital in Awka,
Kenneth Dike Library,
An emergency management complex for the state,
A parental drugs factory by the Juhel Pharmaceuticals Industry
and of course various roads and bridges and other infrastructural related construction.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Ogun state says goodbye to household generators?

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has recently granted Ogun State, the license to distribute electricity.

The first state to receive such a license, and this brings hope to those who work within the industries in Ogun stat. 

The licence was granted to the Gateway Electricity Limited, (a Private Public Partnership between Power Systems Limited and the Ogun State government).

Only time will show the whether this proves a good decision and becomes a successful endeavour. Case studies of other countries that have privatised services like such have proven to improve the service, and generate economy for the companies involved whilst alleviating the strain on the government to provide the service.

As we all know, consistent electricity supply is a problem that Nigeria has continued to struggle with for decades, and there is no better time than Nigeria at 50 for the positive push to be iniated.

I hope other states will be soon to follow.

If you live in Ogun state and have something to say, please send your experience to:

tjdesignz [at] hotmail.com

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Nigerian House of the Future # 1

As part of the new series which has just begun at nigerianarchitecture.blogspot.com, I will be posting entries of what others think should be;

"The Nigerian House of the Future" - unedited AND uncut.

So here's to the first guest post by a poster by the name of "ocho cinco" who posted:

"I always thought the Nigerian House of the future should borrow a lot more from the past

I am no architect, but I think it would be really cool to have a modern rendition of those muddy houses with the thatched roofs. They kept cool during the day and warm at night.

While that might not be practical, on some architectural show about buildings in Africa a while back, I saw the most remarkable building in Ghana. It was at once modern yet fit right into the spirit of the tropics. Shaded by a tropical tree, it was conventionally shaped (read: simple), and it gave the impression of space not the claustrophobia these Nigerian buildings induce. Like a large rectangle floating on a smaller square. Absolutely delightful.

I wish I could get pictures. . ."

The NIGERIAN HOUSE OF THE FUTURE series launch!!



The Nigerian House of the Future series is a collection of thoughts, ideas and proposals by different people of various backgrounds about what the future of Nigerian housing should hold.

Over the next few months stay tuned for some interesting comments and proposals by those who have been asked:

"What do you think the NIGERIAN HOUSE OF THE FUTURE should be like."

If you're interested in submitting an entry; either a paragraph or a sketch or whatever else you feel will convey your ideas, then feel free to send it to tjdesignz@hotmail.com.

Also, if possible please mention in a short paragraph the issues your house addresses, I just want to start a discussion about different ideas, and potentially show your (fully credited) work on the blog.

So then, what do you think?

Friday, 15 October 2010

Nigerian Architecture Blog Video


Watch the new video intro to the blog below!!

Do we have a lot to learn from Hong kong?


Video

Friday, 1 October 2010

What IS Nigerian Architecture?



Nigerian Architecture hopes that all our readers had a happy 50th independence day anniversary!!
***


But in the wake of the celebrations and emphasis on unity and growth, I can't help but wonder still, what is Nigerian Architecture.

If a foreign friend asked you, would you show them the slums of Mushin, or the colonial mansions of Ibadan, would you show them the local Oba's compound, or would you show them the newest skyscraper in Abuja.

Our architecture is diverse, but it is also very dispersed, leaving me with the conclusion that I cannot make one.

As we look towards the 50th year of Nigeria's independence I urge all of us who engage themselves with the built environment to really search for what is true and what is real, without one iconic architectural language to point to, maybe it is time to reach within ourselves, and make Nigerian architecture simply an architecture that is the product of the requirements of a Nigerian's intentioned influence on the built environment.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

All aboard the new Lagos trains.



The Nigerian Railway Corporation NRC has introduced the new 'first-class' trains in order to reduce conjestion on the roads and to banish the image that trains are for those who can't afford to travel to their destination by other means.

This is definitely a step in a positive direction, and should be embraced and encouraged.
The locomotives were delivered in response to the signed agreement between the Nigerian government and the company GE Transportation.
images from
http://www.gereports.com/so-long-to-the-70s-as-ge-locomotives-arrive-in-nigeria/

The road infrastructure of the city of Lagos is highly lacking in the basic framework that could make it easily navigatable and 'public' friendly, hopefully the trains will remove some of the 'pressure' placed on the roads.

In its success, I believe that the roads will be addressed, however if this is not the case, at least the roads will be alleviated of some traffic.

http://www.nrc-ng.org/ps.php

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

WANTED!! - Blog Writers



Hello there, this blog is looking for 2 writers who are passionate about Nigerian Architecture and enjoy writing about the latest updates regarding construction and discussions within the field in the country.

Please email me at: tjdesignz@hotmail.com
To apply. If you currently own a blog or have done some writing, please send in a small extract of the introduction.

Thanks.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Introducing the African Institute of Science and Technology, Abuja

Insipred by Nigerian Red Earth and Patchwork African Weaving Methods
















Details:

Name: African Institute of Science and Technology (AIST)
Location: Abuja, Nigeria
Competition date: 2006
Client: Nelson Mandela Institute
Total Area: 240,000 m²
Architect: Massimilano Fuksas
Consultants: Arup Italia
Materials: Local timber, stone, brick.
Features: Water harvesting, Photovoltaic technologies.

"The African Institute of Science and Technology has as its main inspiration, the effort to promote economic development, social and political Africa by promoting excellence in education. Africa and 'a continent marked by numerous civil wars, of poverty', and lack of training, but it 's also a land with immense natural beauty, cultural richness and versatility'. Characterized by a desire Nations' High
to live, thrive and grow. In this context, the architecture should reflect the will 'to create a pan-African campus, an institution devoted to liberty' academic and peaceful coexistence of all African peoples.
The proposed design aims to combine wisely the African tradition and cultural values innovation applied to the construction and administration building. The architecture adapts to the geography like a patchwork of African weavings.
The needle indicates the connection of Aso Rock, which means "victorious" in the language of Asokoro ("victorious people"). A visual axis to the holy rock, a path that will lead 'students to their "victories" becoming outstanding professionals who will provide their knowledge and their leadership to grow the community' premises and to improve the human condition in all the African continent.
"
http://www.fuksas.it/#/progetti/0209/


Here are pictures about the development of this project which selected its project team and architectural design response based on an international competition. View the Architect's website here click.


It would be interesting to hear your responses towards the runner up:

2nd Place:

Allies and Morrision Architects (under Projects > Education > AIST Abuja)
http://www.alliesandmorrison.co.uk/



Your opinions and updates about this project are very much welcome.

The Evolution of the Vernacular

When it comes to the history of architecture, those who work within the industry know very well the importance and the relevance of referring to the past; not only to prevent the repetition of the same mistakes, but also to remain grounded and to understand where one's ideas sit within the wider framework of things.

Though this is not a recent development, the issue of 'imported' architecture, has always brewed beneath the surface of personal discourse.

Today, the discussion is opened to allow those of you who have strong views about this to speak out.
Lagos; the old capital was a target for colonisation much also like many other major cities around the world, but now that we have entered the aftermath of this it's important to remember to continue to ask questions, for example; have we managed to regain our image and our identity.

Of course, the colonisation of Nigeria cannot be ignored, and in truth, it shouldn't, afterall history is history be it good or bad and perhaps this is what Nigeria needed in order to confront the development of its architecture.

It is also important to note that this conflict, of the colonial and vernacular, is not unique to Nigeria, many countries such as India and South Africa also struggled with this 'search for the contemporary identity'. There are opportunities to research and learn from their discoveries on their journey to finding their identity in architecture and another post has been dedicated to exploring these examples.

After all of this, you must still ask yourself; can you take a person to Lagos, and know that they would be able to grasp the genesis of Nigeria and of course, its evolution?

For example, the pictures below are of some of the wealthy places in Lagos, areas where it is evident that both time and money have gone into the development of the surrounding architecture.

Victoria Island







http://www.propertyatlsdpc.com/portfoliocontent1.htm

There is very little reference to the vernacular and even to the past. It may even look as if the architecture is a little too eager to jump to the future neglecting the need for research into specific terrain and weather needs and how to bring forward elements that our ancestors perfected and that work! Houses/apartments as pictured about are typical of places like America, and the 'mansion' lifestyle is glorified. Most Nigerian vernacular buildings hold strong relationships with their surroundings, and feature softer lines that reflect the method of construction - typically by hand and the available resources native to that area. Exterior markings and emblems on the outside dictate the hierarchy of a series of live-in spaces and overall there is a sense of flow and continuity with the surroundings.

The fear is that these gated community 'imported' designs, neglect to respond to the history of the land, and thus they seem temporary, they seem like they are merely sitting on the soil beneath, and not truly penetrating deep into the roots, into the earth, and into the people.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Mushin Volunteers


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/98/Lagos_Map.PNG

Mushin, Lagos, Nigeria was hit by an 'army' of 5,000 volunteers, who with paintbrushes painted houses in the area.

Mushin is notorious for being the a slum, with run down houses and beggars.

Even though this is just one small step, I hope to see more volunteer action by Nigerians.

This is one of the very few community-targeted projects out there in this country, and hopefully the country will see any more hands on projects.

"Led by Abimbola Fashola, the wife of Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola, the volunteers administered paints to seven streets in the community, known for being overcrowded and chaotic and plagued with a high crime rate.

Fashola flagged off the ceremony on Saturday morning by painting the first house while more buildings and roadside curbs along the most noticeable and eye-catching parts of the community were painted by the volunteers.

"This is a commendable self-help project and I plead with the organisers to extend the same gestures to other local government areas in the state and the entire country," she said.

The volunteers in the one-day beautification exercise tagged "Mushin Makeover" came from all walks of life including entertainment, security agencies, students, traders, professionals and business and corporate leaders. Mushin residents were excited about the landmark beautification project.

"This is so cool, our old house is looking new with a fresh green paint," resident Rashidat Modupe told AFP after her house had been painted.

"I have lived in Mushin for more than 50 years and this has never happened before," another resident, a landlord, added.

The project was organised by Visible Impact to compliment the state government's ongoing megacity programme.

Nigeria's most populous city with between 15 and 17 million people has decided to overhaul its image.

Fashola said a trip he made to Singapore before becoming governor in 2007 gave him a model on which to base his transformed megacity.

He said focus has been put on revamping the transportation and road sector, improving waste management and water provision, property development and the environment."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20091212/wl_africa_afp/nigeriaenvironmentpainting

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