• Saturday, May 25, 2024
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BusinessDay

What architects should do to improve quality of life of everyone in society

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Architects, whose main specialty is in housing design, play very strategic role in housing development which is why much is expected from them to impact the quality of life people live in society given that housing or shelter is an important need of man.

Expectation has always been high from Nigerians, especially those who are in need of homes, for the architects to come up with housing designs that can drag down house prices to affordable levels.

This explains the advice by Samuel Oghale Oboh,former President of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC), that from their privileged position, architects should ensure that they do not create an elitist profession but, as professionals, should impact the quality of life of everyone in the society.

Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital city, appears to be chaotic, especially with squatter settlements that adorn the slum areas of the city. But within the chaos one can still find a functional system that speaks of the unique status of Lagos on its urban renewal and standard.

“Generally,  what you see in Lagos are a reflection of what the society permits and the architect occupies a unique position in shaping the direction where things can be in terms of urban regeneration,” said Oboh, who spoke at the just concluded Lagos Architects Forum (LAF) orgainsed by the Lagos State chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA).

The forum, on yearly basis, gathers stakeholders in the built environment to discuss housing and urban development/regeneration. This year’s edition with the theme, ‘Architectural Regeneration 1: A Lagos Response’ focused on the architect and regeneration of the built environment.

This underscores another level of role which the architects can play that has direct impact on the lives of people in society. Urban regeneration and renewal is an uphill task in this part of the world because regenerating the environment needs pulling down old structures and erecting new ones.

But because Nigeria is an import-dependent economy, cost is always a big issue, particularly in a high exchange rate regime. The onus is, therefore, on the architects to look inwards with a view to making local inputs in their designs that can ultimately, engender local demand.

Joe Osea-Addo of Principal Constructs which has offices in Accra and Tamale, Ghana, Washington DC and Los Angeles, USA, called on professionals in the built environment to adapt their work to suit local demands.

Osae-Addo, whose firm synergizes architecture, urban planning, landscaping, and building technology into a single unit geared towards bringing modern architecture and building techniques to create ‘inno-native’ design solutions to contemporary African architecture, affirmed that architects in Africa appeared to be elitists in their design, and urged  them to simplify their designs for artisans.

Architects in Lagos, given the complexity of their environment, are determined to impact not only the lives of the people, but also the built environment, They have, therefore, chosen to approach architectural regeneration from the perspective of growth in the architectural practice.

Fitzgerald Umeh, chairman, NIA, Lagos State Chapter, is of the view that failure to respond and regenerate into a more resilient organic society can only result into systemic stagnation and eventual decay in the built environment.

The decay in the built environment which defines the slum areas in many cities in Nigeria, especially in Lagos, is the reason for poor economic growth and unwholesome activities in society.

There are however challenges for architecture as a profession which Umeh linked to the new vectors and stimuli emerging daily that require prompt reactions and necessary evolution. “Hopefully, this response would be worthwhile enough to be replicated elsewhere”, he assured.