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Enabling Environment Will Engender Growth In Architecture – Lewis

Posted: Jun 30, 2015 at 1:40 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Ladipo Lewis, the immediate past Lagos State chapter chairman of the Nigeria Institute of Architects (NIA), has lamented the dearth of infrastructure, which according to him has subjected the entire profession of architecture to very low output in developments. In this interview with Nkasiobi Oluikpe, he insist that the availability of a single digit interest mortgage and development loans will make the profession economically viable. Excerpts:

During the last colloquium, you guys (architects) canvassed for the inclusion of architects in town planning matters of physical development. Isn’t that an incursion into other peoples profession (I mean the town planners)?

The major misunderstanding is with the roles and responsibilities of each professional, Architects have been designing and building cities from time immemorial such as:

Chicago by Daniel Burnham (1846–1912): Daniel Burnham’s Chicago architectural firm was responsible for the design of buildings and urban planning schemes across America. Burnham’s office became closely associated with the development of the skyscraper, especially in Chicago and other Midwestern cities.

In New York City his major work is the Flatiron Building (1901–03), which became a romantic symbol of New York. Burnham was a proponent of city-beautiful planning, evident at the layout of the World’s Columbia Exposition in 1893.  Lúcio Marçal Ferreira Ribeiro Lima Costa (27 February 1902 to 13 June 1998) was a Brazilian architect and urban planner, best known for his plan for Brasília. Chandigarh in India by Architect Le Corbusier -The Master Plan was developed by Le Corbusier who also designed the Capital Complex and established the architectural control & design of the main buildings of the city.


The Nigeria Institute of Architects is talking about bringing back ‘rural architect’. What is its place in the modern world?

The rural areas are currently lacking the planning to make them economically viable settlements that should be contributing to the growth of the national economy and stem the tide of urban migration, the viability of our rural areas is intrinsically linked to the future development of Nigeria as a great nation.

The inter-connectivity of rural areas as the bread basket, tourism potential and industrial base with the urban centres, cannot be underestimated with regards to the capacity that can be generated to turn around the nation’s economy and offer great employment opportunities for the citizens of Nigeria.

A great example of what can be done, was the development of Disney world USA in a rural backwater of swamps that most owners of the land were glad to get rid off in Florida, this resort opened on October 1, 1971 and, is the most visited vacation resort in the world, with an attendance of over 52 million annually, an entertainment complex on property that covers 27,258 acres (11,031 ha; 43 sq mi), which houses 27 themed resort hotels, nine non–Disney hotels, four theme parks, two water parks, four golf courses, one nine-hole walking golf course for young golfers (no electric carts allowed), two themed miniature golf courses, one camping resort and other entertainment venues, about the size of San Francisco, or twice the size of Manhattan in the USA; a world of imaginative, futuristic, green eco sustainable architectural and engineering wonderland.

South Africa boasts of Sun City, a two hours 15 min (167.4 km) journey from Johannesburg.  Sun City is a luxury resort and casino; situated in the North West Province of South Africa. The resort has four hotels – Sun City Hotel, Cascades Hotel, The Cabanas, The Palace of the Lost City, Golf club house and casino. Extensive Water Features, Fountains, Pools, Natural Lakes, and Water parks envelope the resort guests, in the African safari experience, with two international-standard 18-hole golf courses. It annually hosts the best golfing talent from all over the world competing for various titles.

The Sun City resort has hosted various concerts and events, including the Miss South Africa and Miss South Africa Teen Pageant. These pageants take place annually in Sun City’s Super Bowl Arena and the Valley of Waves. This City was seemingly developed in a rural setting and created through the imagination of the architects who envisioned its conception and development.


Several foreign firms are undertaking projects like the proposed Makoko-Iwaya Waterfront Regeneration Plan and several others in the country.  What are the indigenous members of the built environment doing to establish and protect their profession?

We are currently protected by the various extant laws and internationally recognised accords that require local professionals to take the lead on projects within their borders. We require that everybody, professionals, clients, public, government and foreign entities respect and abide by these, we as professionals should continue to fight for the right thing to be done.

We owe it to our nation to protect and patriotically defend what belongs to Nigeria being plundered by foreigners.


Where do we draw the line between the draftsmen and the architects? What does one do that the other does not do?

There is no basis for comparison. In the older days when architects used T-squares and drawing boards, the draughtsmen traced and copied out the sketches of the architects. This role has been taking over by the computer and Cad softwares which are even now more sophisticated with the advent of 3-dimensional design and working drawings in BIM ( building information modeling). The Architect spends six years getting a B.Sc and M.Sc in Architecture, and then does another minimum of two years tutelage before sitting for a professional practice exam, before he can become a fully registered architect licensed to practice.

The draughtsman only has to learn on the job how to accurately trace the work of an architect, he has no understanding of the rudiments or complexity of modern design.


The NIA was founded on April 1, 1960. How far has the institute gone in achieving the objectives for which it was founded?

The current status and membership of the NIA today has produced over 5,000 member architects that have designed innumerable buildings all over Nigeria, of which two were Vice-Presidents of the country, numerous national ministers and state governors who are full members of the institute, is proof of laudable achievements.

The NIA and Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON) has over the years, established the profession and steered the affairs of the members in the practice of architecture in Nigeria. The organisation and attendance of members at monthly meetings of state chapters in every state of the federation and annual national programmes is a testament.


What is the NIA bringing to bear on the new ‘change’ administration and what are their expectations from the government?

We expect great changes that would require the engagement of Nigerian professionals in the development of Nigeria. The enabling environment that change would foster can only engender growth in the practice and profession of architecture. The development of Nigeria from third world to first world status will require change in all aspects of society.


What are the major challenges facing the institute?

One is the enabling environment that would foster development of the profession which is predicated on a viable and prosperous economy.

The lack of infrastructure limits the sophistication of architecture in Nigeria. We require a certain level of infrastructural development and a maturity in the financial sector to stimulate building development.

Large scale mixed use and mega projects require long term financing which is practically not available, such developments require lower single digit interest rate mortgage and development loans to make them economically viable, without this the entire profession is subject to very low output in developments determined by upfront cash down ventures, which are hard to come by, in difficult economic climates.

This limits the appetite for building development as a business (Real estate development) and only provides for buildings of absolute necessity.