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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.

The Museum of Natural History - O.A.U./Ile-Ife - Part 1

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

The details.

Photographs taken April 2011.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

University Vs. Apprenticeships

Being a university student based overseas (outside of Nigeria), I have always been interested in making comparisons between teaching methods here and back home - not to mention several other places too.

Recently I have been thinking about the routes available to people to study or work towards becoming an architect. Today, I'm comparing the university route to the apprenticeship route. (I am aware that the apprenticeship route in Nigeria, may lead a student to an ideal job, but may never provide any formal recognition in terms of a certified job title).

Of course there are important considerations to be made, for example; does the route actually result in a validated title i.e. Architect, or does it simply allow one to acquire the skills necessary to design good buildings e.g. a Design coordinator or project manager?

The benefits of university education is that:

- You work in the company of your peers, you can compare and contrast your progress and learn from tutors who have acquired several years or even decades of experience.

- You graduate with a non-disputable qualification which certifies your achievements.

- You are given guidance in the form of tutorials, libraries, lectures which if utilised could help you significantly on deciding options post-university.

Whilst the benefits of a university education are tempting, they come at a price, which many may not be able to afford. This means that tuition fees risk narrowing down the talent pool, to only 'rich kids' who can afford to study for such a duration.

The lack of tuition fee is one of the major benefits of working as an apprentice however this route is without its own difficulties.

Benefits include:

- Though funding is still required, it could probably work out more favourable for the student as there is more control as to what is learnt i.e. you take up an apprenticeship with a company you actually want to work with, with a design team you actually want to emulate in future.

- In the bigger picture of things, working as an apprentice provides the apprentice better career prospects, as you are working whilst learning, thus gaining experiencing at the same time whilst gaining education. University students gain mostly education, then graduate 6 years later to start gaining experience, competing with experienced fellows is a difficult challenge and if the apprentice acquired networks whilst 'studying' they may seem a more favourable candidate to a university student who has no networks.

- An apprenticeship means that it is possible for the apprentice to view things as they would happen in real life, whilst university students are usually studying the theory of things, and sometimes things which may turn out to be non-important in practice.

Ultimately, what I am discussing here is the old debate of which is better to be streetsmart (apprentice) or to be booksmart (university students).

This is a decision which I believe depends on the individual, some students would benefit from learning theory before attempting to actually work within the industry, whilst others may have previous knowledge and may simply be wasting funds and time in the lecture hall.

Now, I am not discrediting the value of university studies, I am merely stating from my own experience as a university student that perhaps if I had chosen to study as an apprentice I may have better job prospects. I can only speculate as to what would have happened.

I open up the debate for you, to discuss and consider yourself, many high school leavers aren't told about the options outside of university. Here is your chance to reconsider and decide for yourself, what your choice will be.

Stay tuned for the negatives of both which I will be discussing in a future post.

My sincerest apologies for not updating this blog as often as I'd like. I've been speaking to a few of my peers about potentially contributing to this blog, and rounding up committed people has been extremely difficult.

To make it up to you, I will be rewarding you with several posts and discussions this July and August.
As always I look forward to your opinions and comments.

Thanks for your patience.


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