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Insipred by Nigerian Red Earth and Patchwork African Weaving Methods
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:
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.
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.