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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.

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