Building is not Architecture

Many Nigerians are very accustomed to the term 'to build', like the rest of the world we like to build things, the term only derives positive connotations, along the lines of "progress", "development" and "growth".

Many of us fantasize about a fruitful future, full of family, friends, and our stuff around us. By nature we are hoarders, and minimalism is seen as something that is only afforded by those who don't have money.

We look down on little and praise surplus, the image of an overflowing cup or a waterfall is a comforting one, if it isn't bursting or filled to brim, it's not enough. As a country we haven't felt surplus of anything truly important in our lives, the electricity still comes and goes as it pleases, the road systems leave a lot to be desired, so in a way we're fixated on it. In a way, it is an example of our conditioning, we have been conditioned to having less than we should for so long, that we do nothing but dream and crave the opposite. Well, to get to my point, I was thinking about the idea of investing in something, building and growing it into something much more, and how this idea is a far cry from our current system of architecture. When done right, a building can be a great investment. Historically buildings have been known to
represent financial power (The Palms Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas), spiritual power (St. Paul's Basilica, Rome), political power (The White House, Washington D.C.) - and I'm pretty sure they're not planning on tearing down any of these buildings anytime soon. The point is that when a building is invested in, given a purpose and maintained it becomes much more than just a box for a dining set and bedroom, it becomes Architecture.

When we think of building, the word architecture doesn't come to mind, we do not think about building a home that will stand for centuries, but instead we are fixated on building a BIG house, a fanciful and pleasurable getaway which we can flaunt in front of our neighbours, friends and families. Frankly, we are content with our boxes. We prefer to build spaces than places. The difference between 'space' and 'place' being that a place has meaning and context attached to it whilst a space in Lagos can be the same space in Mexico city.

We don't think about freedom of expression in architecture, or individuality but instead are more focused on topping the last record and showing off and getting the most we can for our money. Several research projects I have completed have shown have proven that the idea of 'value for money' is a false sense of security we use to determine our satisfaction with something. With something as intimate as one's abode, it will when your bricks begin to move, and the floor design is quickly worn away, or you have children and your house becomes a death trap for your young children.

Currently, our homes are but shells which function on the outside but internally leave a lot to be desired. It is as if we continued to develop the veneer yet neglected the wood underneath which over time has warped and moved so far away from the veneer which eventually makes it hard to appreciate the veneer that hides the secrets within. Another analogy would be like the veneer of a beautiful woman, who initially seems like the complete package, at first you are so entranced by her beauty that you bypass any potential warning signs, not long after getting to know her, you begin to discover the cold heart, the bitterness, the insecurities and the selfishness. It becomes unbearable, after all, is it really worth losing out on all the qualities you know you really need? You realise if something is too good to be true:

a) it probably is or
b) it won't last long.

I encourage us to search for more, to look deeper beneath the surface of building. A home is barely defined by its veneer but instead what it contains, a home that makes you or your family happy is a good home, whether it is big or small.

Building is not Architecture Building is not Architecture Reviewed by NG on 3/05/2011 04:00:00 pm Rating: 5

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