September 12, 2011

Expert advocates indigenous architecture to boost mass housing

By Yinka Kolawole, with agency report

To help boost the creation of affordable housing in Nigeria, an expert has called for the development of an indigenous architectural model, which he termed “vernacular architecture”.

In the same vein, architects in Lagos, under the aegis of Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Lagos State chapter, have concluded plans to develop a new housing design Lagos Housing Design Guide (LHDG) to help tackle housing problems in the state.

Speaking at a seminar recently organised by Lagos NIA, President, African Union of Architects (AUA), Mr. Tokunbo Omisore, noted that the housing guide would enable architects play a major role in creating humane shelter for 25 million people in the state by 2015, in line with the United Nations’ forecast that Lagos will become the third largest mega city in the world by 2015 with estimated population of 25 million people.

“Nigeria loses billions of money to capital flight as a result of continuous dependence on imported building materials, and foreigners who sell these materials to Nigerians consider exchange rate, cost of production and other issues before costing their goods, therefore we need to reduce our reliance on imported building materials to create affordable mass housing by developing vernacular architecture,” he said.

Omisore declared that the development and delivery of sustainable mass housing will help alleviate poverty and therefore challenged government to create the necessary enabling environment for public-private partnership investment in housing.

According to him, “Nigeria lacks the required skill that would enable her to achieve affordable mass housing; this is why major construction companies make use of expatriates to execute building projects. Therefore, the government needs to build structural skill acquisition center to tackle this, because if we do not train more architects to bridge manpower gap, Nigeria will never achieve affordable mass housing.”

He said Nigeria needs to invest in strong research and design development sign (R&D) to create viable investment and job opportunities for investors as well as unemployed architects.

He stressed the need for continuous maintenance of housing projects so that there would be capital appreciation , noting that this will create lucrative and sustainable employment opportunities for graduate architects who will not only act as house builders but facility managers.

In her contribution, Chairman, Lagos NIA, Mrs. Abimbola Ajayi, noted that the new LHDG would be showcased at the 26th Congress of African Architects slated to hold in Durban, South Africa, in  2014 to serve as role model for cities that hope to join league of mega cities.

Also speaking at the event, Makinde Ogunleye, chairman, Institute of Town Planners, Lagos State Chapter, promised that his institute would partner with NIA to ensure that LHDG would be properly utilised to achieve the purpose of creating more houses.