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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Work on Onitsha - Enugu Express Road

Minister of Works; Mike Onolememen has ordered the acceleration of work on the erosion site on Onitsha-Enugu Express Road.

"He explained that the road was of special importance to the Federal Government because of its strategic location and heavy traffic, adding that the road would benefit from the proposed deregulation of petroleum products."

It's always good to hear that any construction work is happening in any part of Nigeria. I hope this continues.


Thursday, 17 November 2011

A brighter idea!

The United Nations Development Programme was quoted saying that the Nigerian Government could save $45m from by replacing the frequently used incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent light bulbs!

 At first when I read this I thought how can you be serious - the country's problem is not with wasting electricity, it's with not providing enough for its people. However, when you take another look, you realise that if we already have a problem with not meeting the electricity demands of the nation, then why should be using the 'little' we do produce wastefully.

If as quoted by the UNDP, that we are in fact not utlising our electrical resources well, then it is important for the government to at least make people aware of this, to increase our awareness on sustainability - after all the resources used to provide this electricity is not infinite - one day our oil will run out!

This suggestion would make it last longer.

So when you take that to an inidividual level, by replacing your incandescent lights with low-energy compact florescent bulbs (CFLs), you are not only reducing your electricity consumption (therefore reducing your bills), but also helping the planet.

"What a bright idea indeed."

Of course, this idea for most working Nigerians is not the most obvious, since not only are we less concerned with the imminent dangers of relying on finite resources, we also don't like to pay more for things we can get for less. CFLs are pricier, but they pay back their cost in their electricity savings.

Info from: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2011/11/govt-could-save-45m-from-florescent-lamps-undp/

Monday, 24 October 2011

The Evolution of the Vernacular : Reblog

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 my personal discussions.

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


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.

Friday, 21 October 2011


Wanted: Blog Photo Submissions!

The NigerianArchitecture blog welcomes submissions from readers.

So if you happen to bump into something that inspires you, makes you laugh or is just plain ugly, send it in and it might get featured on the blog!

Thank you!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Pic of the Day!

An example of western classical architecture fallen into a state of disrepair.

Osun State, September 2011

Monday, 10 October 2011

Pic of the Day!

Iléṣà, Iléṣà, Oṣun State,  State, September 2011

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Nigerian House of the Future #4

"What do you mean? What's wrong with the Nigerian House of today." - Dami Apampa

That was the reply my friend gave me when I asked her casually over my Blackberry Messenger, it just goes to show you that for a lot of people, sustainability isn't a criteria.

So is a house that looks good and is comfortable however you make it - be it with several air conditioning units indoors and decorative paint that needs to be applied at least yearly - a good house?

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Pic of the Day!

Mr. Biggs Shop front September 2011

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Fantastic Read #2 - The Architecture of Happiness

I must admit this book is pretty intense at times but the writing style is really lovely and is really helpful if you're looking to develop your architectural vocabulary.

It can be a daunting read for a student who had only just begun to engage within the world of architecture otherwise it can be an excellent challenge for a person who wants to think outside of the normal four walls that constrain their architectural thoughts and decisions.

I rate this book:

- In terms of topics that it covers: 3/5
It is mostly focused on the philosophy behind western ideals of architecture, it doesn't cover African or Asian topics.
- In terms of images and examples: 5/5
There are detailed examples and descriptions throughout the book.
- In terms of usefulness: 5/5
This is a difficult thing to judge in a book that isn't a necessity however would be a very interesting read, but it is pretty specific and so if you are particularly interested in how architecture can relate to the well-being and happiness of people, this book would be incredibly useful otherwise not so much.

I definitely recommend this for the deep thinker who wants to think about western relationships with the architecture of their homes.

The formal synopsis:
"What makes a house beautiful? Is it serious to spend your time thinking about home decoration? Why do people disagree about taste? And can buildings make us happy? In "The Architecture of Happiness", Alain de Botton tackles a relationship central to our lives. Our buildings - and the objects we fill them with - affect us more profoundly than we might think. To take architecture seriously is to accept that we are, for better and for worse, different people in different places. De Botton suggests that it is architecture's task to render vivid to us who we might ideally be. Turning the spotlight from the humble terraced house to some of the world's most renowned buildings, de Botton considers how our private homes and public edifices - from those of Christopher Wren to those of Le Corbusier and Norman Foster - influence how we feel, as well as how we could learn to build in ways that would increase our chances of happiness. "The Architecture of Happiness" amounts to a beguiling tour through the philosophy and psychology of architecture."

Link to book on Amazon.co.uk

If you have any books to suggest please email me at: tjdesignz [at] hotmail.com

Monday, 26 September 2011

Compounding our problems

If you are familiar with residential housing in Nigeria, you are not a stranger to 'four walls', that is the left wall, the right wall and the front and rear walls that every house seems to surround itself these days.

Now, there are many reasons why we put up walls, and I say walls because these structures are much to high to even see the person behind then let alone call them 'garden fences'.

Enclosing ourselves into our compound improves the feeling of security, there is a clear boundary that separates 'us' and 'them' and for the average Nigerian, the them is anyone whose agenda remains a mystery to us - and that makes us very fearful.

In other socieities, you find these walls outside a group of housing units, creating a community within, a gated community to be specific. These gated communities provide occupants the sense of control which they so desire in order to control the people they want to see and be around. Does that mean the average Nigerian household couldn't care less about their neighbours - since our walls rarely extend more than 3 metres from our interior walls and rarely refrain from exceeding 2 and a half metres in height?

In my honest opinion, these walls are usually unattractive, but they were not really designed to be objects of beauty, instead they are merely deterrents to burglars and lurkers looking for an oportunity to loot. Nevertheless I have obtained several photographs of different intertesting & attractive wall designs around Lagos-Ibadan-Ife area.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Bottle house

Many of us would shudder if someone suggested that they build a house for us out of rubbish, but the bottle house definitely makes one reconsider all previous speculations about homes made from reclaimed materials.
The German company Eco-Tec initially explored this method of construction.

Considering the future of housing is quickly progressing towards the desire for sustainable housing, low-emission, low maintenance houses that respect our environment, this is surely an idea that has great potential, especially in Nigeria where plastic waste is a frequent sight on our expressways and gutters.

A house was recently constructed from recycled plastic bottles in Kaduna. The technique requires the voids within the building material to be filled with either mud,sand or clay, to provide insulation and also to give the finished wall strength and support. It is said that the "three- room structure" in Kaduna  "is so sturdy that it could stand for thousands of years.'' Since the bottles take several hundreds of years to biodegrade this might as well be very true.

Not only does this mean that the house uses up a material which would instead be left to fill up our landfills or even worse litter the public environment, but it also means that housing can be made even more affordable for all. This new completed house will put good use to the thousands of bottles collected in the Nigeria’s bottle recycling programme which was launched in December 2010.

To encourage this initiative "Andres Froesse, founder of Eco-Tec Soluciones Ambientales, was sent to Nigeria to train local masons in the bottle building technique”.
The Project Manager, Chris Vassilou, donated the land for the first bottle house building. "Features in the bottle house include solar powered with fuel-sufficient clean cookstove, urine filtration fertilization systems and water purification tanks, thereby, making it energy autonomous."..

"Advantages bottles have over bricks and other construction materials include:

Low cost;
Absorbs abrupt shock loads;
Bio climatic;
Less construction material;
Easy to build and;
Green Construction.

When you make a clay brick, the time and energy used right from mixing the clay to baking it in the kiln and taking into account the firewood used for that, you will see that the bottle brick is far more energy-efficient. The technology also reduces the carbon emission that happens during the baking of an ordinary brick.
The heat generation from cement factories can also be reduced as this technology uses only five percent cement. The foundation for the entire construction is obtained from building waste and so the mountains from which granite is blasted out can be saved too. PET Bottle can last as long as 300 years – longer than the cement used to bind the bottles together in the walls."

Information and quotes from http://www.vanguardngr.com/2011/09/plastic-bottle-house-debuts-in-nigeria/

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Prefabricated and affordable housing case study

A lovely prefabricated house in South Africa, proving that housing can be affordable and attractive for all. This is definitely a welcome change from the typical block houses that were introduced in the past as a response to the rising need for housing.

The houses or "ABOD" above were designed by a company named BSB design. The design makes use of corrugated panels and bold colours to create an attractive yet cost effective design that is both durable and lightweight making it easily transferable.

I think case studies like this are relevant because they serve as tools for broadening the ways in which we view architecture and buildings. With more and more people unable to afford to build large houses for their ever growing families, this offers a great platform for development, considering that corrugated materials are already very common materials for building houses here in Nigeria.

I would like to see this idea developed to various scales, perhaps even a larger house with 2 floors, and a kitchen.

The possibilities really are endless.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Modern properties in Lagos by Haven Homes

''Haven Homes'' do look very expensive, but their adverts claim that they are not. I hope seeing more and more properties like this in Nigeria will begin to inspire the average Nigerian to reconsider how they view their homes and the future of housing in Nigeria.

Living standards for many across our country are much lower than this, but good housing needn't be this extravagant nor expensive. Let us look at this project as an example on the direction our housing can go in future but for the average Nigerian household small but noticable improvements should be the focus.

Having a building which allows plenty of natural light to enter the building through windows and openings is a sustainable alternative to having lots of artificial lighting surrounding the home. Also there are so many ways to personalise the exterior of one's home, with landscaping and gardening so as to compliment the shape and style of the home.

I am inspired by the video and by the design of the houses which I believe still retain an authenticity to our cultural roots, where we favour big motifs and ornament and bright and vivid wall coverings.
We may not all be able to afford a large sound system or such lavish digital interior systems and decorations, but once again let us look to what this design speaks of at its basic level. It exposes us to an alternative way of relating to one's home, not just four straight walls that contain over-luxurious items, but luxurious elements in the form of decisions made to decide the shape of the walls, the height of ceilings, the width of the windows. We have yet to reflect that we are living in the 21st century in most of our housing designs, as most of us replicate designs and styles from even 50 years ago! The way we live today does not reflect the way our own parents lived, we rely on our mobile phones for telecommunications, many of us even rely on the use of the internet for business exchanges, the need for an additional room for study or office space is growing, and for every option I have listed here we have a hundred other options in the way we can live today.

So whilst, I have yet to find a model that can be used for the average Nigerian household, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.


Tuesday, 30 August 2011

My Concerns about Eko Atlantic City

The blurb on the EkoAtlantic website describes the city as being:

"Our City  

Lagos and Eko Atlantic are expected to become the new financial epicentre of West Africa by the year 2020.

By that time, Nigeria will be one of the world's 20 largest economies.

Eko Atlantic will be a city to live and work in. With its tree-lined boulevards, waterways, manicured gardens, elegant plazas, three marinas and a stunning ocean front promenade, the new city will be a complete contrast to the congested, traffic-filled streets of Lagos."

This seems to be the idealic city, the city in which dreams are made, manicured gardens where the height of grass represents an element of safety, the neatness, the coyness of the detailing in the environment just speaks of a place that would make anyone feel like they are in a place, and not just a meaningless left-over space.

It all seems perfect, but as you might have observed, I am rarely pacified by the prettiness of things, and I seek to find something much deeper within this project.

First of all, I will never condemn a project that is developing our country and I commend all those who are involved in bringing much needed change to a place that has been neglected for decades now. I am pleased to hear that something is finally being done about the eroding coastline and also the flooding that occurs during heavy raining seasons. My only issue is the human aspect to this project.

My studies in architecture have led to me to strongly believe that the best built forms are those with meanings. Well I guess it may be unfair for me to undermine the general human desire for wealth to provide comfort and safety, but I still can't help but feel that this could be so much more.

If you look deeply into project and really think about it, it can give off a "very important person" *only* vibe. My question is: "How is the average Lagosian or Eko person going to relate to this project".

If you don't own a car, are a market trader or working class, will you feel included in Eko Atlantic City? Is it for you? Well I am sure when you think of this question, you will most likely, like I have, come to the conclusion that no it isn't. Eko Atlantic is for big investors, for the rich, for the elites, the people who Nigerians in power constantly remind us are the only important ones. They surely are the ones who will be able to afford the rent there.

This leads me to believe that Eko Atlantic could be yet another gated community, gated by the price which many may not be able to afford, the price of this luxurious lifestyle.

Now why does this bother me, after all you may say that Lagos has been needing some finessing for a long while. Well, I am concerned for those who will inevitably fall through the sieve, again it will be the working class.  They will be left in crowded Lagos, and continue doing what they have always been doing and there will be no real change. Eko Atlantic fails to operate at a deeper level; the community, how will this project help improve the lives of the average Lagosian, and the children who inevitably will become the adults of the future? Have we forgotten that there are children in Lagos, have we forgotten that there are people who make average wages? Have we forgotten what it is to be a real Lagosian?

Many people have outrightly blamed the project for not being sensitive to these particular people, the people who can't afford drivers, who can't afford to stay in luxurious hotels in the 'expensive' parts of Lagos, and wonder why the project avoids confronting Lagos' biggest issues.
Well I simply believe that the purpose of Eko Atlantic city, is to demonstrate that Lagos can be a place of great luxury, a place of development and a place with many investment properties. Eko Atlantic lying at the coastline in an analogy is the new paintwork that hides the cracks in the walls behind or the mould that will inevitably seep through with time.

My hope is that once Eko Atlantic is completed, this fresh front to Lagos does not distract us from the city's desperate need to accommodate more people, the city's need for better infrastructure, the people's need for electricity and working social services.

I believe all of this is very possible, and in an ideal world I would love all of these projects to be going on all at the same time.

I am thankful that more and more roads are gradually being maintained and refurbished, but of course, I continue to hope for more.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Eko Atlantic Update

One thing I am always happy to report about is the Eko Atlantic development in Lagos or Eko as I now prefer to call it.

I appreciate that the development has continued and the state has continued to channel funding towards the project. I am very certain that there is a lot of international interest, after all consultants from projects in Dubai were brought on board also, and though many Nigerian projects may become lost, those endorsed or more correctly, shall I say; encouraged by 'outsiders' are more likely to actually be completed.

So to cut the long story short, I have composed a post of updates on Eko Atlantic.

A satalite image of the constructed mass of land on January 2011. 

Info and images from:

(A GoogleEarth image of the inital stages of the island).

I find the shape very interesting and I await with bated breath for what the plan will actually look like, especially in the era of GoogleEarth, we are now able to view land masses from satelite views. It could be very beautiful and a shining example of development in Southern Nigeria.

Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka describes Eko Atlantic as "Rising like Aphrodite from the foam the Atlantic."

On March 16 2011, Eko Atlantic City achieved it's milestone of reclaiming 2 million square meters of land (by moving typically 10,000sqm of sand each day), this landmark was celebrated at the site.

Click here to read what the New York Times  things about Eko Atlantic City in their article "Making Over Lagos".

Friday, 26 August 2011

Documentary: The Chinese Are Coming

Trade between China and Africa has exploded in these past few decades. The first country shown in the documentary; Angola is China's no.1 supplier of oil, so this is definitely not a one-sided trade.

This documentary shows the dynamics between the Chinese workers and Africans, the positives and negatives.

Where does this boom in interest leave other Africans looking for work, where does this reliance on Chinese trade leave the Chinese?

Many westerners are starting to feel the pressure of competing with these Chinese companies, and this is understandable, but are we (as Africans) just doing what we did a century ago with relations with the westerners? 

Is this relationship sustainable? Are they truly contributing towards the development of our nation? 

Documentary summary:
"Travelling across three continents, Justin Rowlatt investigates the spread of Chinese influence around the planet and asks what the world will be like if China overtakes America as the world’s economic superpower. In the first of two films, he embarks on a journey across Southern Africa to chart the extraordinary phenomenon of Chinese migration to Africa, and the huge influence of China on the development of the continent.
While many in the West view Africa as a land of poverty, to the Chinese it is seen as an almost limitless business opportunity. From Angola to Tanzania, Justin meets the fearless Chinese entrepreneurs who have travelled thousands of miles to set up businesses.
Justin Rowlatt crosses Brazil and the United States on an epic journey as he continues to investigate the spread of Chinese influence around the planet.
In Rio, local industries, including bikini factories, are threatened by cheap Chinese imports, and in the Amazon, Justin witnesses the phenomenal impact of the Chinese hunger for resources on the indigenous people and the environment.
In the US, from California to the rust belt, Justin encounters the rising undercurrent of American fury over their own decline in the face of competition from China."

My full opinion:

As an African, I can safely say that we are very much aware that we are being exploited. However, we have very few options, those companies and charities that emphasise fair trade rarely actually trade fairly, and charities and aid work have been working in this continent for centuries now - to no avail.. (people don't need food and handouts, they need AFRICAN education that will teach them how to succeed with the environment but most of all they need good governance). For many African countries we CAN do it all by ourselves, that is the physical stuff, we have the resources, and man power we can build our own roads, schools, hospitals, and we do build the majority of them ourselves - BUT we don't have good governance!! You might think that colonialism is the big excuse, but it is no less than the truth. The way Africans govern typically is a tribal matter, our land was divided and different tribes with different outlooks on life were put together, we are very spirtual people and our beliefs do matter to us. All of these traditions that our ancestors held were discouraged, unrewarded and almost abolished after colonialism, so we were forced to adopt a false 'democracy' or government, and the 'colonials' took all of this with them after decades of reigning our countries.

My point is: (sorry to have rambled) :

The Chinese are not in any way contributing to the governance of our countries, and so they are not improving our situation.

They are merely tapping resources back to their homeland.

It may seem selfish to bite the hand that feeds you, but this is the truth, we did it once before, we celebrated in an quick union with the British Empire and when they left, which the Chinese will also ultimately end up doing (as I doubt that they will ever see themselves as Africans), they took it all with them.

Visiting my home country in Africa, I see all of these cheap Chinese products, cheap scratchy plastic bowls, weaning out our bamboo or calabash wooden bowls? We are now in the age of sustainability and renewable resources, these plastic bowls do nothing but litter our land..

It's really sad that my nation is looking for quick fixes.

Also, the Chinese immigrants and companies often offer labour at ridiculously competitive prices, and out compete local trade, which can't afford to compromise on costs, many have gone out of business, this is definitely not sustainable - like I mentioned, what will happen when the Chinese leave?? Where will our own tradesmen and women go?

Another point is that the Chinese respect their culture, but to the extreme that they rarely integrate into other cultures or partake. There will be Chinatowns within these African countries, and they will live segragated from the citizens. I have read reports that some of these Chinese businessmen and women only buy from Chinese stores, and only eat Chinese food etc.. talk about integrating.

Also one more point is that many smart Chinese entrepreneurs have purchased land in the African countries, so that they can inherit when they self brought-on boost occurs in the cost of land.

As an African, it's very uncomforting to know that the land your ancestors were buried on may be owned by a person who is not willing to engage with your culture, who might build a skyscraper, or some strip joint (exaggeration), but may not respect the site, or might be only interested in selling it back to you for as high a price as possible.

These are all my fears for my nation.

I do see one major positive with the Chinese though; they have increased the interest in the endless possibilities available in African countries - Yes India and China are booming, but along with Mumbai, Mexico City, Lagos in Nigeria, West Africa is also one of the world's MEGACITIES, the Chinese are VERY VERY smart, they will increase competition for Westerners who have been ever to comfortable with trading with Africans.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Cities & Societies in Comparative Perspective - Call for Paper Proposals

The European Association for Urban History (in Czech Republic) is hosting it's 11th International Conference on Urban History, with the topic "Cities and Societies in Comparative Perspective" in which it is calling for entries of Abstracts from various designers.

"Dear Colleagues and Friends,

You are warmly invited to take part in the 11th International Conference on Urban History 'Cities & Societies in Comparative Perspective', which will take place in Prague from 29 August until 1 September 2012.
Paper proposals are welcome from 1 June 2011 until 1 October 2011. 

In the folder ‘Sessions’ you now can find the list of the sessions which were accepted by the International Committee. We hereby invite you to propose papers for these sessions, and submit them on line with the help of the application software which you can find in the folder ‘Call for paper proposals’, open till the October 1, 2011. After this deadline the session organizers will make selection of accepted proposals and will notify all authors about their decision by January 31, 2012.

We look forward to welcoming you in Prague on 29 August 2012.

Best regards,

The organizing committee of EAUH in Prague 2012."

"We propose to approach this topic not via individual biographies"..  "but rather by looking at various types of networks of communication between different professionals. In order to establish a typology of transnational networks of expertise in the field of urban planning in sub-Sahara Africa, we look for papers that are using a comparative approach and that go beyond the canonical events. Instead of highlighting the famous CIAM-conferences, we aim at revealing less known networks with a significant importance for the dissemination of urban planning expertise throughout Africa, such as the Aga Khan Foundation, the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, the International Federation of Housing and Planning which organized the 1952 Lisbon conference on housing in tropical climates or the inter-African Housing Research Conference held in 1952 in Pretoria, South Africa, under the auspices of the Commission for Technical Co-operation in Africa South of the Sahara.

Session chairs:
Luce Beeckmans (Groningen University, The Netherlands) - l.beeckmans@rug.nl
Johan Lagae (Ghent University, Belgium) - johan.lagae@ugent.be

All abstracts, maximum 500 words, with a brief CV should be submitted by
October 1, 2011.

11th International Conference on Urban History
Cities & Societies in Comparative Perspective, Prague (29 August-1 September 2012)

For more information, please visit the website of the conference on http://www.eauh2012.com

c/o TU Delft
RMIT - Faculty of Architecture
PO Box 5043
2600 GA Delft

Info. from:  ArchiAfrika.org & eauh2012.com

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Fantastic Read #1 - Public Places, Urban Spaces

If you are indeed studying architecture, or have a keen interest in it and wish to learn more, I will be introducing a series of posts dedicated to a few books that I have read that have helped me gain further insight into the topic.

To start of this series, I want to share a book great for understanding architecture and its relevance within the cityscape. I purchased this book in my second year of study, and I find it very interesting to read. I recommend it because it is very straight forward and so, easy to understand. It covers a wide range of topics, and it really makes you more aware about how decisions made within the built environment of our cities affect our day to day life.

Did you know how safe we feel in a place depends not only on the police and the camera, but also the atmosphere a place feels? In a country like Nigeria, we go on and on about lack of policing, but I tell you, it is time to start looking at the architecture of our cities, and whether they make us feel safe.

I mean, how open the public spaces are, which provide many options, routes out and into the city even, which subconsciously frees our minds, we are subsconsciously aware that if anything was to happen, we would not be boxed in, with no exit.

Our road networks are not only dangerous because of the pot holes, or bad drivers, but also because it is very easy to become boxed in.

If there was an accident and someone needed to be rushed to the nearest hospital, we know that this limited road network will pose a significant threat on that person's survival.

I rate this book:

- In terms of topics that it covers: 5/5
There are several considerations, digital means of safety & natural means of safety and plenty of real life examples.
- In terms of images and examples: 4/5
Most examples are European or American, but there is a wide range to choose from, making the book easy to comprehend.
- In terms of usefulness: 5/5
This book was the backbone to a module I took in Urban Design Theory, and contains a surplus of information in sufficient depth, enough to give a person the feeling that you have truly learnt something after reading it.

I definitely recommend this for the budding designer.

The formal synopsis:
"Public Places - Urban Spaces is a holistic guide to the many complex and interacting dimensions of urban design.

The discussion moves systematically through ideas, theories, research and the practice of urban design from an unrivalled range of sources. It aids the reader by gradually building the concepts one upon the other towards a total view of the subject.

The author team explain the catalysts of change and renewal, and explore the global and local contexts and processes within which urban design operates. The book presents six key dimensions of urban design theory and practice - the social, visual, functional, temporal, morphological and perceptual - allowing it to be dipped into for specific information, or read from cover to cover. This is a clear and accessible text that provides a comprehensive discussion of this complex subject.

* Learn all you need to know about design of urban spaces from this one-stop introductory guide
*Gain a comprehensive overview of the topic through the authors' holistic approach
*Complex ideas are presented logically for ease of understanding."

Link to book on Amazon.co.uk

If you have any books to suggest please email me at: tjdesignz [at] hotmail.com

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Oladayo Oladunjoye announced as the shared winner of the First Prize in ArchiAfrika's Blueprints of Paradise competition with his project "Redesigning the Temporal"

Oladunjoye's design will be featured along with other entries in the Afrika Museum in Berg en Dal, the Netherlands.

The Blueprints of Paradise competition sought to ask "African architects and artists to visualise the future of built Africa".

The responses were described as being "intriguing and in some ways surprising". "They did not choose to merely present a building or a monument, many of them realised that public space in Africa is very accommodating and that this could serve as a generator for future developments."

"The jury suggested that some of the ideas put forward in the entries could also be possible solutions to design challenges faced elsewhere in the world when dealing with public space."

Read more here: ArchiAfraka's Article & Newsletter.

All images, info and content from & copyright ArchiAfrika: http://www.archiafrika.org/en/node/1288

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Igbo pyramids?

Spot the difference..

African Legacy

Well apart from the varying number of levels, all of these are pyramids, commonly known to originate from Egypt, however only the last picture was taken in Egypt, (Saqqara), the first two were actually taken in Nsude, in Enugu state. The Nsude pyramids are yet to be carbon dated, but judging by the black and white photos (taken in 1935), they are 'very old'.

Ok, so technically, pyramids are known for having four sides (square based), and these stepped pyramids are circular (circle based), but non-the-less we can refer to them as pyramids.

I thought it was interesting to share these images, as many theorists claim that the people who went on the colonize western Africa could have been decendants of the ancient Egyptians. Now, looking at these images it's not so hard to believe.

I am sure if a study was conducted on the two groups, more correlations would probably be drawn.  I'm waiting scientists!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Pic of the Day!

Bookshop on Obafemi Awolowo University campus, April 2011.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Pic of the Day!

Front view of Ododua Hall on Obafemi Awolowo University Campus, Ile-Ife. April 2011.


Side view of Ododua Hall on Obafemi Awolowo University Campus, Ile-Ife. April 2011.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Pic of the day!

Church in Akure, April 2011.

Monday, 25 July 2011

The Photograph that started a brawl!! Part 2

I am sure you're eager to read the conclusion to the part 1 of "The Photograph that started a brawl"..

Well as I mentioned, things were pretty calm until..

My mother exited the car, and in a fit of fury headed towards the group of men and us, and started shouting at them.

Now, here is the exact point that the brawl began, the men (who should have known better) immediately started to try and intimidate her, and the shouting became spitfire back and forth, this was pretty intense for me, as they obviously outnumbered us, and no passerbys even stopped to intervene. My 50 year old parents, a driver and myself surrounded by 7 or so "should have known betters".

Eventually, I managed to drag my unwilling mother back towards the car, and my dad agreed to delete the video - please note that this is the non-explicit version, there was a lot of agression, and the argument brimmed close to getting physical. If they were young men, there may have even exchanged blows.

The men fueled by my mother's accusations, eventually quietened down, and from the distance I saw my father take out the camera (which by the way, the man tried to snatch out of my hand once or twice), and delete the photograph.

We were then able to return to the car, and my father joined us in our car, as our driver did a u-turn and drove away, my father cheekily turned around and told me that he only deleted one out of the several pictures I had taken, and we exchange a high five.


Now, my only thought on this, is truly; what is this country coming to?

Yes, this could have happened anywhere in the world, and it does BUT the difference is that, the authorities would have served to scare the perpertrators before they threathened us, but with no police or government officials anywhere nearby, it was simply us against them. That is the problem with the Nigerian system.

Lack of personal security, lack of personal rights, lack of justice.

In yoruba, eyan gbodo f'agidi se gbo gbo ikan!!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Documentary: The Argentine Economic Collapse - A Warning

I found this documentary whilst reading about governments and economy. I think it is very interesting, and I highly recommend it. You see in Nigeria we always talk about our problems, and Nigerians often internalise and personalise their situation.

I have always believed that people are people, no matter where you come from, our environment governs our development and our behaviour. In terms of politics, Nigeria's problems may be frightening now, but they are not unique. There are always several blogs to discuss how individuals can make a change, together we can make a change and we must, from the documentary you can imagine any unhealthy economic climate as a boiling pot, it is bound to spill over at one point or the other, be it in this generation or the next.

Of course, if I could, I would urge everyone to watch this documentary, it is especially interesting if you want some insight into why economies crash, or the behind the scenes of corruption.

Though this film doesn't talk directly about architecture, I am sure you will be able to see how infrastructure, networks, links and the general development of a nation can be brought to a halt by bad governance.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Concrete: Potentially the worst thing that could have happened to Nigeria.

Driving through the congested and tight cities along the south-west of Nigeria I can't help but notice the concrete, you see, I hold an opinion (or generalisation rather) that our use of concrete is largely inappropriate nor well executed.

Don't get me wrong, I understand that several structures exist which are in fact outstanding examples of concrete structures. Personally, I think if you are conscious that a building is concrete either in appearance or structure, then its use of concrete has probably not been successful.

What I am specifically referring to here is the aesthetics. Several buildings, especially high-rise buildings and skyscrapers would not be 'buildable' without it, and because of this, I am not discussing concrete structures, but instead, the aesthetic uses of concrete.

Let me start by showing two pictures:

Images from http://amightytree.org/

The first image was taken of Umu-Anyo Houses in Onitsha in 1961 and the second below is the same location in 1992.

Now, I don't know about the average observer but the first site, of a very vernacular setting is more pleasing to my eye than the second image, of the close concrete structures, leaning and slanting towards each other.

What I also realised was the shocking amount of concrete work everywhere that is done freehand, resulting in leaning windows that are meant to be square and bending walls that are meant to be straight, and the whole structure likening itself to a handmade piece of clay work magnified to human scale. In this case, that 'made by hand' quality that would normally be celebrated in sculpture and pottery making takes away from the beauty of the building, and wonky is a word that comes to mind.

I understand that maybe I am being overcritical, and that to some extent, indigenous architecture in Nigeria has never really celebrated orders like that of the ancient Romans and Greeks where columns and the notion of orders and geometries in Western architecture have been claimed to have originated from.

But, I think it would be better for us to develop our own traditional methods of construction to incorporate these modern materials or simply to improve the performance of our materials, rather that to adopt something that we can only implement half-heartedly. After all, what does the concrete say about the above place, concrete has its uses, but within the ruralscape, its overuse is detrimental!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Pic of the day!

The National Mosque, Abuja.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Photograph that started a brawl!!

On our way to Ekiti state, we drove past Ijesa, and as usual, my father was telling me stories about the rich history of the Ijesas. We happened to drive past this colonial building, and my father instantly felt that it was necessary to stop and encourage me to take pictures of this building for my collection.

I agreed, and we got out, greeted some locals near by and observed the house from the outside and I took a couple of snaps of the house.

About 30 seconds after I took the photograph, a tall man appeared from our left, and instantly berated me and told me to "DROP THAT CAMERA" and "stop that". In shock, I immediately put my camera down, and he continues to rant about how the building happened to be a government building and that we had no right to take a picture of someone elses' house.

I know my father, he is a very strong man, he won't have anybody bullying him, but especially his family. Calmly I watched as he explained to the man what our purpose was, and that he in fact had greeted those sat infront of the house on approaching it, the rude ignoramus continued his rubbish talking, and then proceeded to insist that we take a seat on a nearby bench with him.

Instantly, both myself and my father are aware that this is just a man who is looking for a way to collect some extra money. My father controlling his outrage very well, took a seat next to me, and we sat opposite the man.

An apology was in order really, since we were not in the wrong, and this man, probably around the same age as my father or younger, was causing a commotion for what? A couple hundred Naira 'lost' to a free photograph.

My father explained that he was insulted by the approach the ignoramus took to us, by berating me thereby berating my father as he gave me the permission to take the photos. The man continued to attempt to dilute the matter and to worm his way out of an apology. At this moment, I have as disgusted a look on my face as I could get away with, without the ignoramus picking a fuss.

Within minutes of sitting on the bench, about four other men appear, and our driver leaves our car to join us. All of the men listen to both sides of the story, and admit that the ignoramus was wrong in berating a man like my father, a man who knows his rights, who is respected and has earned his rights to it.

I suppose the business card my father wanted to present to the ignoramus to quieten him wasn't quite the 'reward' he was looking for.

However, things were pretty calm until..

To be continued..

(Just to prove that I am very aware of my rights, I'll be posting the picture of the 'government' house - which by the way we suspect is not used by the government - I mean look at the state of its windows -, but is just a government protected property - because of its history).

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Pic of the day!

Heritage Foundation in Idanre.

I supposed this is mud-wall construction but the foundations are visibly constructed out of concrete.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Visit to the past.

When I was younger, I remember seeing these painted lorries everywhere.. there were mostly lions and religious quotes and motifs, but they are sparse these days. I guess on one hand it's a sign that people now have better vehicles to transport goods and agricultural products, and fewer lorries congest the expressways (well let's not get carried away)..

But I can't help but wonder:

Where did all these lorries go?

Did we send them to China as a trade-off for okadas?

"Face Me, I Face You is a form of Nigerian Architechture"? Guest blogger entry!

I have discovered yet another interesting article by MyPenandMyPaper(.wordpress.com), it shares an interesting commentary on the "Face Me, I Face You" phenomenon.. Read on..

"I don’t know who decided to update Wikipedia with information about Face Me, I Face you – related to accomodation in Nigeria, but what I really find disgusting about the statment is the line: Face Me, I Face you is a form of Nigerian architecture. I mean, Is Face Me I Face You an architecture? is Face Me I Face You part of architectural education in Nigeria? The statement makes Nigerian architects look stupid.

Wikipedia reads:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Face-me-I-face-you is a form of Nigerian architecture where a group of one bedroom flats have their entrances facing each other to form a compound with a main entrance leading into a square in the middle. Face-me-I-face-you’s are a very common architectural style in major urban settlements in Nigeria, most notably in the cities of Lagos, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Benin City and Ibadan; the flats are low rent and are used by the average Nigerian citizen because of their affordability.[1][2]…source: click here
Nigerian architects where are you? Is Face Me I Face You a Nigerian architectural idea?

My own definition would be: Face Me, I Face You is the name of a type of low-cost accomodation in Nigeria where rooms are built to physically face each other……..

For example: even in Yankee, a 3/4 bedroom house could be built in such a way where rooms could face each other, separated by a hallway, is this not Face Me, I Face You? and does that mean the idea is Nigerian?


This article from AllAfrica.com is more informative:
THEY are popularly called “Face me, I face you” houses. Others derogatorily refer to them as “face me and face trouble” or “face me and face wahala”. But, in professional circles, they are known as tenement buildings, multi-tenanted buildings or Brazilian houses. They adorn all nooks and crannies of Nigeria’s urban areas and offer residential accommodation to the greater majority of urban dwellers, particularly those living in the slum neighbour-hoods. Occupants of such accommodation share facilities such as kitchen, toilets and bathrooms. In fact, it is commonplace to find about ten people cramped in a less than 10×10 inches square metres room. Living in tenement buildings is like staying in a miniature hell and children raised in such environments are known to be more delinquent when compared with their counterparts brought up in more decent neighbourhoods.
Tenement buildings have been phased out in most advanced countries. In their place, studio flats in blocks of flats are now built to accommodate the less-privileged who cannot afford to live in flats, bungalows and duplexes. Only recently, a Lagos based private developer announced plans to build studio flats in highbrow Lekki Peninsula instead of the mainland and other less expensive parts of the metropolis. Built environment experts who spoke to Vanguard Features in separate interviews justified building studio flats in Lekki, even as they posited that tenement buildings should not be phased out because majority of the people who live in such houses cannot afford to pay for studio flats.
source: http://allafrica.com/stories/200707160401.html
So please, whoever updated that Wikipedia article should go get his/her facts right.

Is this not a Face Me, I Face You?


Back to Lagos Accomodation:

The house behind ours, where I live is a Face Me I Face You. It appears the only thing the inhabitants of that house know is how to fight with each other.

The stories are always very funny to me, but very serious to the tenants of the house, causing a lot of arguments, cursings, etc:
  • Its either the husbands of Mama-A and Mama-B are fighting each other and the wives are trying to sort things out;
  • or that a single lady tenant in the compound said that the husband of one of the other women in the house was making passes at her / tried to sleep with her. The wife rises to the defense of her husband and calls the single lady an ashawo;
  • or that two children of different families started a fight while playing and very soon, their individual set of parents join in the fight in a bid to defend their kids; the mommy of child-A takes on the mommy of child-B, same with the daddy’s;
  • or that someone shitted in the toilet and did not wash it properly. In a bid to know where the shit came from, they begin taking of history of who went to the toilet / who was seen going to the toilet. Now, how do you explain, “I went inside the toilet, but didn’t shit, or that I came out of the toilet but met the shit there when I went in?” Often, the person who came out of the toilet would say there wasn’t any shit there when he came out and the next person who went in would say he/she saw shit there. How do we know the truth about the matter?
  • or that the wife of one of the men was inside the bathroom and a child / another married somewhere was trying to take a peek at her naked body; or that the son of one of the tenants was trying to touch the private parts of the daughter of another of the tenants, where the
  • or that something was missing somewhere…..there is always an issue, something to fight about, something to bring all the tenants out of their rooms/set of rooms and make them take one side or the other.
At the end of the day, someone will go and call the Police who will come and arrest a couple of people – and then the matter will be settled.

The house behind ours is an ideal example of Nigeria. Over time, I have gathered that the tenants include someone from each part of the country: North, East, South / West. Some are Christians and some Muslims. The only thing common with them is they all try to speak Yoruba. While its nice to see them living together, sometimes, I detect (in the many arguements I hear) some form of bias based on tribal / religious affiliation in the tone of their voices / in the causes of arguement and even in the refusal to accept a peace-making activity. Its more like each person is at the other’s neck – just for the sake of tribe or religion. That is why I wonder, when is Nigeria going to be delivered from the demon of tribalism and religiousity.

Just in case you want to participate, answers are still pouring in to the question: what was the religion of our Nigerian fore-fathers? Maybe we could throw away all the Christianity, Islam / whatever and go back to where our fore-fathers left of.

Whenever anything happens in the house behind ours, I’m all ears, and listening. I never forget to say a prayer in my heart: Dear Lord, may I never live in a Face Me, I Face You. I won’t want to live each day of my life and argue with a neighbor over something old or new.

Do you live in a Face Me, I Face you? what are the challenges of life facing you there. Please share your story!"

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The Museum of Natural History - O.A.U./Ile-Ife - Part 2

Here are my photographs taken at the Museum of Natural History on the Obafemi Awolowo University Campus in Ile-Ife.

Photographs taken April 2011.

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