Buildings are probably the major domino in the puzzle of cities. In Nigeria however, they seem to be unnoticed even though they are interacted with on a daily basis.
As 2019 has drawn to a close, another decade comes to an end and it is Nigeria’s 5th decade since her independence. Sadly, most of the buildings we celebrate till now are still the ones that defined our history leaving the architect short armed in his fight for relevance. People see a good/beautiful building and praise the client/owner but see a bad one and remember the architect. 2019 was a year where social media strongly questioned the architect’s role in our society. They conveniently ignored the shadows of clients, developers, building professionals and other issues over our collective failure and blamed only architects for the present state of our urban story. Remember it takes two to tango but presently, the work of one doesn’t hold value in the eyes of the other. If architecture shapes our lives and architects shape architecture, you know the rest. The architects work is not to draw, they are designers who create and shape the stage for the urban story of our lives to be told.
This article highlights the architect’s role by celebrating and learning from new architecture that has added value to our urban scape this year. This value is based on vast criteria which include functionality, aesthetics, sustainability, culture, urbanism etc. Its curates a list of the top buildings that were designed and completed within Nigeria in 2019 in no particular order.
Client: Sky View Nigeria Ltd
Architects: SAOTA (South Africa) and Consultants Collaborative Partnership (Nigeria)
Location: Kingsway Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Images courtesy Amanda Iheme
As one moves along Alfred Rewane (Kingsway) road in Ikoyi, Lagos, it is impossible to miss one of the most striking buildings of 2019. Within the exotic skyline of Ikoyi, the oval-plan shaped building rises 15 stories on a rectangular podium and is covered with a distinctly designed brise-soleil in two halves of each side with planters staggered along the middle. The design also creates a grandiose entrance with a curved podium slab that rises towards the frontal corner of the building to create a welcoming effect on everyone. All elements of this commercial project scream luxury as it contains offices, rentable spaces, restaurants and much more. Even with its exotic nature it doesn’t fail to address the tropical climate of Nigeria with its north-south orientation, shading screens and vertical plants to minimize heat load, reduce the sun glares and create a proper indoor working experience. At night, it solidifies its iconic nature with its fascinating cold toned lights that illuminate the facade, which finally crowns its name on that street as Kings Tower.
AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL LAGOS (AISL) STAFF RESIDENCE
Client: American International School Lagos (AISL)
Architect: MOE+Art Architecture (Nigeria)
Location: Federal Estates, VI, Lagos.
Images courtesy Ayeni Olajide
In an attempt to create an exemplary residence in a school environment, this building answers most of the questions facing housing design in Nigeria. The building design inspires a new residential living experience by creating urban interaction between its indoor and outdoor spaces. The building opens up as 5 rectangular stacked modules around an enclosed urban courtyard with the highest module rising 9 storeys. It organises these modules with mixed programming of activities as an inward-looking focus to the large courtyard, apartments facing long corridors and linking large sky balconies, all as interactive and sustainable living points for all occupants.
With a sustainability vision in mind, the courtyard achieves more greenery and has a large ramp for a 3-dimensional interactive experience in the urban space. The façade features vertical planters and intricately designed motif screen reminiscent of adire patterns to reduce the heat gain and solar glare on the building. The plant populated façade seems to be one of the largest green walls in West Africa while setting the pace for urban vertical farming at city centres. The building finally stands out as a calm neutral toned form populated with windows and greenery that blends with the environment.
THE YEMISI SHYLLON MUSEUM OF ART (YSMA)
Client: Prince Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon
Architect: Jesse Castellote (Spanish-Nigerian)
Location: Pan Atlantic University, Lagos.
This museum supports the current thriving art community in Lagos with an intent to fill an educational and cultural gap and also create a place for artistic innovation. With 3 main guiding principles pointed out by the designer which includes: fitness for purpose, sustainability and character – the museum rises 10m high and becomes a flexible space ready to host over 1,000 artworks of the client and more. The building stands out as a rectangular opaque form-fitted for a functional interior and truncates a lower corner to create a rising and welcoming entrance.
The opaque character is deliberate to limit natural light on artworks and create a controlled and flexible experience within the space. The building is then finished with burnt orange textured concrete that sets a stark contrast against the blue sky and green lawn.
Client: Dr Dele Balogun (MD Celebrations)
Architect: HTL Africa (South Africa & Nigeria)
Location: 44 Adebayo Doherty, Lekki, Lagos.
Images courtesy Ayeni Olajide
The Celebration store possesses one of the most captivating facades of 2019 and also creates a peculiar experience for a small mall. The building project is a reconstruction of an existing residential building and organises the store programs on two floors and a pent floor for administrative activities. The focus of the building then tends to the façade with a beautiful abstract art inspired glass form that seems to creep/grow from the ground across the face of the building. The glass hosts the entrance to the building, a display space on the upper floor and creates a proper blend and experience between the interior and exterior of the building. The façade is finalised as steel frame skin sprayed with brown Tyrolean to create a contrast against the sky.
GUARANTY TRUST BANK
Client: Guaranty Trust Bank
Architect: Homarch Consultants Ltd (Nigeria)
Location: France Road, Kano.
In GTB’s quest for a global identity through architectural peculiarity, another amazing and culturally informed branch was unveiled in Kano this year. The building is an ode to Hausa cultural and architectural heritage, its façade design features cultural elements which include; the Arewa sign which is the Hausa language for north and the Kakaki which is a dominant musical instrument in the north. This bank sets a pace for modern architecture in Nigeria’s northern region by infusing these cultural elements into the building design. The Arewa sign becomes a railing design for the frontal terrace while the Kakaki creates a symbolic design for the parapet wall top. The building combats the northern climate by recessing the entrance to create shade, reduce heat gain and create a grander entrance with a welcoming effect to people.
MAPLE CANADIAN COLLEGE
Client: Mrs Ebi Obaro (Founder MCC)
Architect: Patrick Waheed Design Consultancy (Nigeria)
Location: Oluwode street, Lekki, Lagos.
Images courtesy Rubys polaroid
The Maple Canadian College possesses a special modernist character and spatial experience for an educational building. The simple white rectangular form grows across two floors and is crowned with an unexpected mansard roof. The mansard roof which is an ode to traditional Canadian buildings is deconstructed to create rooftop spaces for a new learning experience. The interior spaces are designed as open interactive classrooms partitioned with shelves that sets a look for more informal learning. This building finalises a new educational experience by learning from the idea of a courtyard in buildings and bringing it to the exterior with skywalk verandas that lead to the roof. This 3-dimensional open space improves passage, social interaction and collective memory within the building.
ALLIANCE FRANÇAISE DE LAGOS / MIKE ADENUGA CENTRE
Client: Cobblestone Properties
Architects: Baron Architecture Ltd (Nigeria)
Location: 9 Osborne Rd, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Nestled in a corner plot on the Osborne Road, Ikoyi is a white rendered mix match of colonial and modern style buildings, the Alliance Francaise de Lagos/ Mike Adenuga centre, is a breath of fresh air to motorists providing an eye-catching glimpse piece as people commute along the intersection of Osborne, Alfred Rewane and Gerrard Roads.
A simple composition of rectangular buildings occupies the corner plot gracefully, hosting different uses that cut across institutional, hospitality and commercial. The architecture of the buildings seems to be inspired by traditional French architecture and also some modernist cues were taken from late Swiss-French Architect ‘Le Corbusier’, a keen eye is quickly reminded of Corbusier in Chandigarh and Adjaye in Gabon. The simple colour palette of the buildings also allows for visual clarity. The site is smartly landscaped to allow for parking and greenery, some greenery also features on the roof following Charles-Édouard Jeanneret’s (Le Corbusier) 5 points. Although the parking is largely inadequate due to obvious constraints of space, this building was one of the nice things to see spring up in Lagos in 2019.
The revitalization of buildings to new uses has intensely dominated the Nigerian architecture scape for about two years running. This is immensely interesting because it doesn’t give the designer a clean slate to start with. The Softcom campus ‘Eko Novo’ is one of these revitalized buildings, home to one of Nigeria’s biggest full-service tech companies, Softcom. The building’s exterior architecture is best described as contemporary, featuring a duality of hues and texture, the simple massing of the existing block had also been maximized to create a simple yet interesting façade.
The interior architecture of the building is more artistic, expressive and cultural, lauded by tech blogger, Benjamin Dada as game-changing in office design, the use of art to subtly introduce diversity into the spaces where white and timber textures are the primary materials was a good blend to see. The site has also been smartly designed to accommodate internal retreats and parties by the office. The smart contextual solutions provided for an office space made this building one of the interesting sights of 2019.
Client: Taj Bank
Architects: Urban Cribs Ltd
Location: 72 Ahmadu Bello Way, Central Business District, Abuja.
Images courtesy Sonia Nelson
How do you communicate the ethos of an institution with its building? The Taj bank in Abuja is probably one of 2019’s best examples of institutional branding with architecture, the bank seeks to demystify the complex banking processes for its customers and also provide them with interest-free loans and the likes. The building communicates this effectively with the tripartite nature of its hues and materiality, it is from the simple massing of the building rising from a glazed base that three floors featuring a stylistically interpolated balance between screen and solid aluminium panels rests. The building seems to be dressed and hidden within itself while embodying immense potential for transforming banking in Nigeria and being a signature piece of architecture to look forward to in the central business district of the capital city.
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF POLICY AND STRATEGIC STUDIES BUILDING
Client: Central Bank of Nigeria
Architects: Design Union (Nigeria)
Location: Bukuru, Jos, Plateau State.
Images courtesy Laoulu
Institutional buildings generally bear the risk of monotony because they are by nature repetitive. A possible answer to this monotony is seen in design unions response to the project brief, how can we stimulate visual interest? Taking cues from the depths of classic tropical architecture that dominated the western region for the better part of the 50’s through to the 80’s, the building introduces a simple contrast of hues between the buildings skin and its “cover” (terraces). These terraces have been smartly introduced to arouse visual interest and also provide shading for the complexes fenestrations. Deep overhangs of the roof celebrate the roofline, little of which is seen in a lot of architecture in Nigeria today. Simplicity, visual clarity and a seemingly smart colour palette, places this three-floor building in the league of interesting buildings to come out of 2019.