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Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Calabar International Convention Center

There you have it, a lovely render of a scenic view of the Calabar International Convention Center designed by the Copenhagen based architecture firm; Henning Larsen Architects. Considering that Copenhagen previously was titled the happiest city in the world - hopefully this design orginating from a happy-city based practice will have that essence?

Henning Larsen Architects say that;

"The multi-functional and flexible building will also offer the citizens of Calabar a new cultural centre that will provide the setting for concerts, film festivals and exhibitions.
The Calabar International Convention Centre consists of four adjoining, sculptural volumes. The building is situated on top of a hill and has a panoramic view from the foyer. On the one side, the location on the middle of the hill creates a natural amphitheatre with a room for several thousand people. On the other side, you have a spectacular view of the river delta.
The volumes are cast in concrete and appear as sharply cut. The main hall can be opened up towards the outdoor amphitheatre so the technical installations of the stage can also be used in connection with outdoor events. The flexible building design allows for several types of events to take place at the same time." 

Location: Calabar, Nigeria
Client: Cross River State
Gross floor area: 16,000 m2
Year of construction: 2011 - 2013
Type of assignment: Winner of invited international competition

There is something very, Sydney Opera house about this, don't you think?

From the information provided on the Henning Larsen website, construction should be mid-way by now.

Information from HenningLarsen.com

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

American International Hospital Calabar

"OMMA Healthcare is currently developing the new American International Hospital Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria. This new US Standard acute care facility is being designed by Rees Associates. The hospital is scheduled to open in 2012 and will provide a new standard of medical care to the citizens of Nigeria." - OMMA Website

"The Government of Nigeria desires to provide quality healthcare to the people of the Calabar region as well as provide an excellent environment for persons traveling to the Calabar, Cross Rivers region to receive healthcare services The REES solution is a 200 bed, four level hospital on a complete campus offering an outpatient clinic, residential housing, retail and a hospitality hotel and conference center. Ease and quality services for patients, visitors and employees is a prime concern for the Nigerian government.

The hospital is directly linked to clinic and the outpatient services which includes a 12 exam room clinic, outpatient dialysis center, outpatient infusion center, radiation oncology and an outpatient pharmacy. Two, three-level residential buildings providing 100 living units is connected to the hospital through pedestrian walkways. Also all five, 400 square meter retail buildings are linked by a series of covered pedestrian walkways. The hospital is located at the highest point of the highest point of the site for a high profile presence to the surrounding community and travelers passing through. The exterior is simple to directly reflect the clear and functional planning of the hospital." - Rees Website

Rees is a U.S. based architectural, planning, and interior design firm - established in 1975.

It's about time I must say!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Tubali: Hausa Architecture


Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Residents of Makoko made homeless

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Nigeria Adopts Global Standards for Interior Designers and Architects

'NIGERIA, yesterday, adopted the declaration of International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers (IFI), a global body that sets standards for industry operators.

Vice President Namadi Sambo, called for stronger partnership between professionals in the sector and government as he believed that it would help unlock enormous potentials in architecture and interior designs and enhancing the country’s drive towards sustainable growth.
Sambo also expressed that “a properly managed built environment would stimulate development.”

He charged the private sector to key into government’s aspiration to make housing affordable to all income earners.

IFI declaration contains a set of professional codes that architects and designers of countries subscribed to it are expected to imbibe while discharging their responsibilities. When the codes are religiously enforced, designers earn more trust from clients who are in turn compensated with improved services.

Reciting the declaration to Sambo and other participants, Caan said: “This is what we do; what we create and what we give… It is the difference we make and why we choose this noble profession.” She read the declaration, which covers expectations from designers as regards value, relevance, responsibility, culture, business, knowledge and identity before handing it over to Sambo.

Earlier, Caan, who alongside the Executive Board of IFI visited the country for the first time, lauded the Lagos State government for ongoing rehabilitation in the state. She, however, charged government to pay more attention to infrastructure and education, which she said, are critical to economic development. She also tasked local designers on originality of ideas.

Experts at the plenary called for the institution of necessary policies to deepen local content in the sector. Improved local participation, they said, would stop capital flight via importation of interior decorations, which they put at $6 billion yearly.'

Paraphrased from: The Guardian Nigeria

Friday, 5 October 2012

Off Topic

I discovered an article where President Jonatham discusses Nigeria's future..

"Jonathan therefore announced that Nigeria’s foreign policy would henceforth be based on attracting greater foreign direct investments to accelerate domestic growth and create jobs for Nigerians."

“I am confident that by 2015, Nigeria would have witnessed transformation in all sectors to the benefit of not only its citizens, but also those who have an interest in the country,” he said.
The security challenges in the country still featured in his address, but the President declared that his administration was on top of the situation. “We are dealing with the issue decisively. It will soon be a thing of the past.

It is the sentence, I have highlighted in bold, that seriously irritates me. I really wish that our leaders would stop trying to master the art of smooth talking and actually do things.

I rarely delve into politics, and that will be the same case here but let it be known, I cannot stand when leaders talk very nonchalantly about extremely serious issues.

It's the same as if a Doctor handing you a lollipop to calm down your nerves after telling you that he's found a tumour in your brain.

It's ridiculous!

We trust you to help us, not to soothe us, who cares about words, when the actions are the consequences we live with every day of our lives...

Oh Nigeria!!

Source: The Guardian Nigeria

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Fantastic Read #3 New Directions in African Architecture

Dear readers,

Firstly, many apologies for the huge hiatus in posts.

I found the following book to be extremely interesting in understanding the issues African designers face when designing architecture for their respective countries.

Author: Udo Kultermann
Title: New Directions in African Architecture
Date first published : 1969
Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Directions-African-Architecture-directions-architecture/dp/0289796741/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1348959803&sr=8-1

This is a very old book and it doesn't come with an attractive front cover, but it does have a lot of content which is still relevant for today.

If you're looking to read books which discuss not just issues that are specific to Nigeria, but allow you to cross reference and learn from other countries, then this book would be ideal. It's also very short.
Why is it that architecture in African countries emulates rather than evolves its own style?

If you would like to get your hand on a copy, please comment below.

Eko Atlantic - New Visuals

Here are some new visuals for the famous Eko Atlantic project in Lagos.

Views of the Marina at West Point.

Is this Lagos or New York ? :)

And where are they going to find generators to light all these towers :)??

Source & Property of:  EkoAtlantic.com

They are lovely renders if I do say so myself!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Catholic Church of the Transfiguration - Lagos

London based architects DOS Architects, were appointed to design The Catholic Church of the Transfiguration in Lekki, Lagos (2009).

Visually the design is very striking. I am particularly pleased to be able to share with you, the 'architect's' thoughts on his building. One thing about architecture is that there is always a thought behind it, much like art, sometimes your experience of the building/piece can be transformed by simply understand why and what was the thought behind the building.

It seems as if they were not intending on producing anything vernacular or related to the culture or traditions of the people living in Lekki, and because this is a commercial project that is a very justifiable standpoint to take. This building therefore becomes an icon or landmark rather for the church and brands the church. Since the shape is so striking, I can only imagine all the interesting descriptions people would give to describe the building perhaps to a wayfinder, perhaps it is the 'fish shaped building' or 'the building shaped like half of a traditional 'African' drum'.. I could go on (post any suggestions in the comment box below).

When asked the architect said that:

"Even though our design proposal may seem unconventional to the untrained eye, it is actually based on traditional principles of Catholic Church design: The main congregation Hall features a Latin cross above the Organ and altar; The hall has a nave and two aisles at each side which are all coincident with the main axis of the Church; we have placed a Latin Cross on the highest point of the Church’s structure, which will become an icon for the city of Lekki and Lagos as a whole."

Pictures below..

"The project consists of an organic skin which, in one single gesture, becomes the roof and external walls of the Church, enveloping and protecting the Congregation within. The main access is placed in the narrowest and lowest part of the building and leads into a spectacular entrance foyer, from which the visitor has views and clear access to both floors of the Church. The main staircase in the entrance foyer divides the Church into two halves which are visually linked by the large atrium that traverses the building. The funnel effect within the entrance foyer moreover reinforces the huge and spectacular scale of the main Congregation Hall and the Chapel of Perpetual Adoration to either side."

"The architectural concept and structural form are integral, with a series of arches of varying heights producing the sculptural form of the building as a whole. Arches are one of the oldest and most efficient forms of structure, utilizing the full height of the building to provide stiffness resulting in a relatively slender structure. Fabricated steel arches are positioned at 4m centres along the length of the building, with cold‐formed steel purlins spanning between the arches supporting the roof finishes and ceiling within. These arches are supported on each side of the building by a series of piled foundations taking vertical loads into the ground beneath. The horizontal thrust which results from the arching action is resisted by a reinforced concrete ground slab which ties the two bases of the arch together."

Pictures follow (click for larger views): 


I am interested to know your thoughts about this project. I understand that visually it does not appear vernacular nor traditional, however this is a non-Nigerian firm that designed this project, and unless specified by the clients/church they had no obligation to design from a different stand poit. Do you think they have been successful, are you convinced that the design has fulfilled the brief, surely it has fulfilled the functional aspects of the brief, which is to provide a church suitable for the size of the church's congregation, however, has it convinced you that this is a great response to that, or is it simply a sore thumb in the environment for all the wrong reasons.

Comment below and I will post my opinions shortly.

Also if anyone happens to have pictures of the construction process please email them to me : tjdesignz [at] hotmail.com

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

What does an Architect do?

I sometimes ask my friends, family and colleagues to tell me what they think of what an architect does, or what the job entails, so true to fashion, I ask again:

"What does an architect do?"

And if you find that hard to define, please tell me "What do you think their job entails/involves".

Much appreciated.

Open Discussion

Hello all,

I don't normally create topics which are simply based on opinions, but in regards to my most recent post on "Why do we feel that everything traditional is bad" at http://nigerianarchitecture.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/why-do-we-feel-that-everything.html

A reader of my blog; 't' commented saying that:

"other day, I read of a housing development, some 5-star thing for the Ibori's of this country (pre-jail, obviously) and the advert said that ALL the house finishings were imported, hence it's of the highest highest class of house. I nearly cried. You could easily define the highest class of house as one that uses the best local materials, local talent/craftsmanship, appropriate technology, custom design etc, but these Europe-worshippers went the other way. In this day when we need employment. So help me an tell dem :)"

This comment demonstrated another examples of the ways we think in our societies. It prompted me to write an in-depth response which is the following :

"Thank you t and anonymous for your comments.

In response to t, it is more so the wording of such a statement that bothers me, and we should be bothered.

It is ingrained in our psyche that 'traditional is bad' and to some extent even some people believe that 'African is bad', this is definitely not the case. There are several valid designs and attributes to African traditional methods that deserve more recognition.

Please see the TED.com talk on African Fractals at:

We do many things out of tradition because tradition has been a series of processes which over thousands of years and 100s of generations, has been refined over and over again. Of course the world's move towards modernism has put a strain on many traditions (not just African), and many ways of doing things have been neglected for modern ways of doing things.

Because Nigeria as a whole, is not known for its modernity we are not really known for much within the building world - please look at the post I wrote on wayfinding in Lagos, Abuja.. at:


This issue isn't limited to Nigeria, but the majority of countries across the world.

Without digressing too much, I think that there is definitely something wrong with the way we view our traditions, particularly within buildings.

Do you know that it is a requirement in my course in the UK to produce work that supports environmental sustainability?

This means that whilst our designers and planners are trying to compete with the world's high tech and concrete and fossil fuel driven modern cities, those of us currently living in these 'modern countries' (outside of Nigeria), are working desperately to do the reverse. We are penalised for over use of concrete, and non-renewable resources. I see colleagues everyday proposing new ways of using plant material in construction, methods of building less linear and rectangular forms, the use of straw and earth within walls for insulation etc..

This IS African architecture, of course we are not the only ones using these materials, but in our rural villages, methods of construction of our clay (not mud) dwellings (not huts), we practice these methods of construction everyday.

We have figured out the best ways of using natural resources for the construction of traditional and indigenous homes, what we need now is to find a way to bridge the gap between that lifestyle and the modern one.

In response to anonymous, this is the perfect place to point fingers, the 'three that point back at you' can be used to further analyse and refine our culture, our ways of thinking and of course our architecture.

Thank you.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Why do we feel that everything traditional is bad?

I have just finished reading a fantastic book titled: "African Traditional Architecture" by Susan Denyer :

This is surely an amazing book. I have always been sceptical of non-Africans writing about Africa, and always hesitant of imminent disappointment.

However, Denyer did more than justice to this subject and has proven herself to be an incredible and worthy author of the subject.

Reading this book has led me to ask the following question, which is also the title of my post:

"Why do we (as Africans) feel that everything traditional is bad?"

Denyer at the end concludes that this should not be the case, and in all honesty, before reading the exact same words at her concluding chapter of the book, I have always felt that this is the case.

There is much to be proud of, but we don't celebrate our own.

Understandably, from decades of neglect and colonisation that has reinforced the hierarchy of (mostly) European methods over African, the effects have become lasting, however this is no excuse.

The feeling of inadequacy permeates through practically everything I see whilst in Nigeria. Actors and actresses adopting American or English accents during interviews, dressing styles, movie production styles but most relevantly housing styles.

When I started this blog 4 years or so ago, I remember being frustrated at the lack of resources I could find for Nigerian architecture. I was disappointed not to even find a definition for such. Surely a people who have existed for thousands of years would have some sort of coherent style that they can truly call their own? Surely?

I understand that the term Nigerian is artificial and pre-colonialisation there were people and tribes, there wasn't a Nigeria as such - not in the way it exists today at least.

It frustrates me to read such an amazing book filled with inspiring photographs of skillful construction methods and the use of materials that respect the planet, yet we discard all of this for concrete. A material which I am sure you are all aware of by now, I have a strong distaste for.

I am a masters student at a UK univeristy, and Iam constantly studying ways to reduce the CO2 emissions of materials we frequently use in construction, trying to prove that the methods of construction are sustainable and such, and yet we choose to ignore everything we have been doing for thousands of years to import a cold and unrelatable concrete architecture.
This is really frustrating for me because like the question begs, I do believe that modern day Nigerians have developed a genuine embarrasment and shame about their traditions. About our Gods, about our people, about the way we just are, our traditions. I can hear it in the tone, the shake of the head at a tradition mud or clay (or whatever you choose to call it) hut/house, but jump in excitement at the new concrete skyscraper.

I understand that indigeneous people living in the forest areas of Nigeria aren't exactly celebrating the most comfortable of lifestyles, but have you ever thought about developing something relevant and authentic to the climate. Quoted from Denyer's book, many people prefer the soft feel of a clay floor to the cold and hard feel of a steel re-inforced concrete floor. The materials have great properties but we have allowed ourselves to be brainwashed into thinking otherwise.

It is possible to build outstanding and long-lasting affordable houses with clay. It is possible to retain traditional characteristics and still live a modern life, nobody is asking anyone to throw away their shoes and to wear loin clothes and sit by a fire at night. I just want to prompt a bit more thought and innovation, coming direct from Africans. From Africans for Africans, or more specifically, from the person living in that zone for the people living in that zone.

If you are reading this and you are in a position of influence for any part of design, please think twice, it might take a bit more research, but believe me, your work will stand out, it will last longer and the people will be happier, because it respects their heritage, it makes more sense to them, and it is real architecture.

Blog Contributors Wanted!!

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tjdesignz [at] hotmail.com

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