Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and has a demographic of 206 million people and Africa’s largest market by population, preceded by Ethiopia and Egypt, which have populations of 110 million and 102 million, correspondingly. Nigeria has a lot going for it, aside from the big market. This oil-rich country had an estimated 37 trillion barrels of oil in 2016, ranking it 10th in the world with massive oil reserves, contributing to 2.2 per cent of global reserves. The oil sector has contributed to economic expansion, which has boosted real estate development. Population and economic expansion necessitated infrastructure construction to accommodate improved homes, offices, shopping malls, schools, churches, and other required and functioning structures. Architects, like other professions, saw investment prospects in Nigeria and several took a chance on designing innovative and sustainable architecture. Unfortunately, instability, notably attacks by Boko Haram, a regional terrorist organization, has hindered investment and caused massive damage to thousands of houses and public facilities. However, development in many cities has not slowed. Modern architecture styles today compliment Nigeria’s past by utilizing locally and easily accessible construction materials. This West African country features some distinctive and iconic structures that not only reshaped its skyline but have also become significant landmarks. 

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Aerial View of a floating slum in Nigeria_©BBC News 

Architects, planners, and engineers with their feet firmly planted in the present, unable to refuse favourable prospects provided by society. They are spontaneous, do not prepare or plan for the future, are impatient, and, in most cases, do not care about growth, progress, or the people they deny fundamental survival necessities. The concerns are, what are the attitudes of people in the construction business to Nigeria’s homelessness since there is no sense of succession, and what would they do if projects were abandoned by incumbent governors? Most Nigerian politicians are ideologically not smart enough, with dubious ability to carry out their legislative responsibilities, resulting in housing scarcity and homelessness. The physiological and psychological circumstances of the homeless should be the major focus of society. Architects are recognized for their visual talents and communication, but they are not employing them for community growth and development, and they have deviated from the genuine aim and ideals of what should have been community growth and development free of systematic inequalities.

The evolution of “Nigerian Traditional Architecture”

Nigeria’s culture is large and diversified, with over 400 ethnic groupings that are far from homogeneous in terms of socio-cultural framework and ideological orientation. As a result, discussing building effects from a regional viewpoint is beneficial. According to studies from the fifteenth century, traditional architecture flourished in Nigeria. Religious beliefs have a direct impact on spatial layouts in Northern Nigeria, which is known for its ribbed vaults, domes, and carved and painted exterior murals. Individual egg-shaped portions of earth-plastered adobe (locally known as tubali) were used to create monolithic structures. A typical home was made up of rectilinear and circular space units connected by wall segments that formed a boundary wall. Roofing is mainly the connection of shallow domes and vaults. People in southern Nigeria used to reside in vast urban social groups. The “public structures,” which included the king’s palace (which also served as the courthouse) and the marketplace, dominated the core parts of historic towns such as Ibadan, West Africa’s largest metropolis. Houses were constructed in vast complexes, with each room opening into a shared “courtyard” with enormous verandahs – an important element for pollution protection and sociocultural interactions. In terms of building materials and techniques, southeastern Nigerian community architecture is comparable to that of the southwest. However, structures were prioritized depending on their proximity to the community/compound head.

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Makoko Floating slum in Nigeria_©BBC News

Influences on Nigerian Architecture

Colonial control brought “civilization” and the construction of public facilities (schools/institutions, warehouses, banks, hospitals, courthouses) and residences in the late 18th and erly 19th centuries. There were quite elaborate places of worship erected. The structure was mostly made of wood and masonry constructions elevated above ground corrugated iron sheeting and huge good windows that are darkened So, might Nigerian architecture have originated during this period as a result of a union of big local materials and emotions overhangs and verandahs, as well as several forms of components as well as British symbols.

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Aerial View of Nigerian Slum_©BBC News

The abolition of slave trading resulted in the return of numerous people, as well as architectural influences and styles. Storey buildings, distinctive Afro Brazilian architecture, and cathedrals with strong gothic influences were incorporated. These were made with sand-crete bricks and rich ornamentation. Decorative pillars and moulded balustrades Several of these have survived and may still be seen today. Lagos, as well as a few historical places like Calabar and Ibadan (Southern Nigeria), as well as Kaduna (Northern Nigeria). Religion has had a significant impact on the geometric design, proportion, and aesthetics of Northern Nigerian traditional buildings. The dome-shaped mud roof gained popularity and had a unique façade reminiscent of cities in Africa‘s north. Imported construction materials did not perform well in influencing the shape of buildings rather than the buildings themselves, as ancient mud walls became an increasingly ornate technique to create intricate moulded designs in cement, painted walls, and figurative patterns.

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Emir’s Palace within the ancient city of Zazzau (Zaria)_©Hallaboutafrica

Indigenous and modern architecture merge

By the end of colonial control, indigenous architecture had devolved into a mash-up of foreign influences placed on characteristics that were either heavily affected by weather or religion. During a period of growth and development, Nigerian architects (all of whom had received their education abroad) frequently collaborated with British counterparts to undertake a project that attempted to suit the environment and local conditions—simple geometric forms, concrete exterior walls with concrete, steel, and aluminium sun shading devices. There was little to no interpretation in terms of architectural materials used, traditional or religious components; as a result, contemporary, useful, and visually beautiful structures peppered the landscape and terrain with no historical impacts. According to architecture historians, this was unavoidable, given the architects’ education. “Today’s world.” Unfortunately, despite the establishment of local architectural schools, too little is being done. Traditional architecture is being taught. Where There is indigenous architecture and created structures communicate a story. A tale that represents its people’s history, progress, and culture. These structures are frequently identified, renovated, and conserved as historically significant and Cultural significance.

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Development amidst indigenous architecture_©Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Identifying and Preserving

There is more than sufficient local knowledge of Nigerian art, history, and architecture to raise awareness of the need to maintain history and culture via the preservation of existing monuments. Because the building is a social activity that creates a cultural legacy, identifying and preserving what remains of indigenous architecture is a good starting step. The Railway Complex in Lagos is an outstanding demonstration of a symbolic structure with a strong style in Nigeria’s history. Mali (West Africa) established intentional policies to encourage practising architects, academics, and the government to support the study of traditional and historic architecture, leading to the usage of traditional and historical architecture. Many historical techniques, features, and styles are still used in today’s current styles as well as shapes. The advantage of this may be demonstrated in the fact that there are several old towns in the nation that are nicely preserved. Indigenous architecture coexists with more contemporary styles. The importance of preservation in recognizing and acknowledging indigenous architecture cannot be overstated. Architectural elements, construction techniques as well as styles, and the use of materials influenced by cultural and foreign influences are all part of Nigeria’s history and should be prominent in today’s architectural landscape. We may begin with the old city of Lokoja, a confluence metropolis and former administrative seat of Lord Lugard during the colonial era.

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Night View of Lagos,the capital of Nigeria_©Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Conclusion

Architects, planners, engineers, and policymakers in Nigeria have not done enough to alleviate suffering in individuals and underprivileged areas, to put it mildly. A lot of politicians in Nigeria are ideologically incompetent and with questionable competence in executing their legislative duties. That resulted in housing inadequacy and homelessness in the country. We, in the professional community, are educated. In our three-piece suits, we commit the crime in different ways, not minding the communities we are depriving their fundamental needs. Illusionary or not, sit appears as if we use charm, deceit, and manipulations to gain the confidence of our victims (the poor) yet, systemic inequity. Professionals’ poor attitude toward growth and development, as well as their inability to constructively engage or be involved in government policies that would have positively impacted growth, have littered the communities with broken careers, sufferings, and psychological damages that cannot be quantified. Society is more or less indispensably complicated, and we all, wealthy and poor, rely on one another to thrive.

Aerial View of Nigeria amidst traffic congestion_©Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Nigerian politicians are destroying our neighbourhoods and weakening our civilization because of their careers, ignoring the careers of the people who elected them, the impoverished and homeless. In honesty, their lies and deceitful behaviour toward the poor and homeless \shave nothing but create hysterics and or panic in the communities. It is life for the politicians and specialists entrusted with developing legislation that will improve the lives of everybody, particularly the impoverished and homeless, and suicide for the underprivileged. It is insane for politicians to continue telling poor and homeless populations what they will do for them if elected while knowing nothing about living in poorer places. Professionals on the construction team, legislators, and technocrats should recognize that science limits society. In life, data, research and constructive analysis are necessary for all reasonable policy implementations for the growth and development of the people, rich and poor. The specialists on the construction team should band together and insist on politicians assessing project plans. This way, they can ensure that all planned projects satisfy scientific criteria and are finished and put to good use. When completed and fully operational, meaningful work possibilities for the people, both poor and homeless, would be established, and housing adequacy would be addressed.

References:

  1. Anjorin, O. (2017, December 29). Understanding Nigeria’s architecture. Retrieved from Punch: https://punchng.com/understanding-nigerias-architecture/
  2. EBENEZER, A. M. (2020, February 23). PRE-COLONIAL TRADITIONAL ARCHITECTURES OF NIGERIA. Retrieved from Guardian: https://guardian.ng/life/pre-colonial-traditional-architectures-of-nigeria/
  3. IMMERWAHR, D. (2007). The Politics of Architecture and Urbanism in Postcolonial Lagos, 1960–1986. Journal of African Cultural studies.
  4. Obiadi, B. (2020). Architecture Of Cities And The Politics Of Abhorrence In Nigeria: A Case Of Political Neglect, Abandonment And Homelessness. Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal.
  5. Prucnal-Ogunsote, D. (. (n.d.). CLASSIFICATION OF NIGERIAN ARCHITECTURE. AARCHES Journal Volume 1, No. 6.
Author

An aspiring urbanist, who is trying to explore herself through architectural writing currently, she believes that the remedy for a healthy planet begins with designing responsive spaces. She is an optimistic, determined and curious person who is always eager to learn and improve her skills.

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