Lagos-based architecture practice, Studio Contra won the competition to design an Art Guesthouse within the new pedestrianized district master-planned by Adjaye Associates for Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA). Their proposal blends pre-colonial Benin architectural features with modern design, aiming to reshape the city’s landscape.
As described on their website, the architectural inspiration for Studio Contra’s Winning Design for Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA) draws from the grandeur of Benin palace structures. Historical accounts from early European visitors described the king’s court as vast and awe-inspiring, characterized by expansive courtyards, long galleries, and towering pitched roofs.
At the heart of this project is the honoring of timber, a fundamental element in ancient Edo architecture, skillfully crafted by the esteemed royal guild of woodworkers known as “onwina.” Traditional construction methods from that time included using clay earth for lower walls and columns, timber beams and rafters for roofing, and timber shingles for the external roof covering. The proposal cleverly combines contemporary and traditional materials in a fresh and innovative arrangement.
The project’s standout element is its striking pitched roofs, which serve as both eye-catching exterior features and versatile interior spaces for a range of uses, from intimate gatherings to grand events. Situated within a thoughtfully designed courtyard garden, the building cleverly invites natural light, fresh air, and lush landscapes into its core.
With its iconic pitched roofs, reverence for timber craftsmanship, and a seamless blend of traditional and modern elements, Studio Contra’s Winning Design for Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA), has successfully shared an imaginative interpretation of what Benin buildings might look like today. To find out more about the proposal, CLICK HERE