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Architecture x Nigeria: 3 Designers Discuss Their Favorite Projects and How They Created Them

Architecture x Nigeria: 3 Designers Discuss Their Favorite Projects and How They Created Them

Parpend, a design studio from Lagos, Nigeria, interviews every year a group of architects to discuss their favorite projects and how they created them. Believing firmly that design should be a fusion of function and expression, statements are compiled in a publication in order to highlight the designers’ creative process to achieving good design.

Entitled “PERSPECTIVE”, this edition of the report, destined for designers and non-designers alike, examines 4 projects with 3 designers: Seun Oduwole, Principal designer at SI.SA talks about the JK Randle Centre for Yoruba History and Culture, on Lagos Island; Tosin Oshinowo, Director at cmDesign Atelier discusses a Bahá’í temple competition and an art space for Victor Ehikhamenor, a prominent Nigerian artist. Moreover, James Inedu-George, Head of Design at HTL Africa explores a mosque contest.

Iconic mosque- HTL Africa. Image Courtesy of ParpendThe Baha'i Temple- cmD+A . Image Courtesy of ParpendJK Randle Centre for Yoruba History and Culture. Image Courtesy of ParpendAngels and Muse- cmD+A . Image Courtesy of Parpend+ 20

Design is not magic but it can be magical.


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According to Parpend, “architecture in Nigeria has evolved to be a fusion of different architectural styles from different regions around the world. [It has] lost its purpose […] its identity and does not cater to the history and the culture of the people living in and around it”. Believing firmly that it’s not too late to act, the duo of designers is asking a handful of architects How do we design better cities in Nigeria? knowing that the architecture of today was informed by outdated happenings. Read on to discover 3 designers discuss 4 projects, underlining what good design looks like.

Seun Oduwole, Principal designer at SI.SA

Architecture can be a catalyst for urban regeneration.

Seun Oduwole. Image Courtesy of Parpend
Seun Oduwole. Image Courtesy of Parpend

Believing that there is no Nigerian or African style, Seun Oduwole, and SI.SA design buildings based on their environment. “Architecture is an immersive experience beyond the visual—it’s about the quality of space—creating emotion, and should be a catalyst for improving cities, not just visually but spatially”. With these principles at the core of their work, they have imagined the JK Randle Centre for Yoruba History and Culture project, currently in process.

The JK Randle Centre for Yoruba History and Culture

JK Randle Centre for Yoruba History and Culture. Image Courtesy of SI.SA
JK Randle Centre for Yoruba History and Culture. Image Courtesy of SI.SA

JK Randle Centre for Yoruba History and Culture. Image Courtesy of ParpendJK Randle Centre for Yoruba History and Culture. Image Courtesy of SI.SAJK Randle Centre for Yoruba History and Culture. Image Courtesy of SI.SAJK Randle Centre for Yoruba History and Culture. Image Courtesy of SI.SA+ 20

Located on Lagos Island, the center has a design “deeply rooted in history”. Inspired by the historical mud houses, the project includes a massive community building, a park, and newly restored swimming pools. Designed under Olympic standards, the new swimming pools can seat more than 100 people. Originally built in 1928, the compound was a closed and sectioned space. Under construction and renovation, fences were torn down in order to open the entirety of the park and introduce an outdoor recreational area in the heart of the city. On another hand, the community building, inspired by the hall built in memory of JK Randle in the 50s and then demolished, was redesigned as a treasury for Yoruba history and culture, including a museum, library, co-working spaces, etc. The glass façade wrapped the structure houses the names of the 450 Yoruba cities. Leaning forward, it is a tribute to progressiveness. Finally, the green roof reduces the required energy to cool down the building.

Tosin Oshinowo, Director at cmDesign Atelier

Architecture is all about how people experience spaces. It’s about working the senses and is an immersive experience.

Tosin Oshinowo. Image Courtesy of Parpend
Tosin Oshinowo. Image Courtesy of Parpend

cmDesign Atelier’s process includes spatial research, tapping into the sensations that the client would want to feel. Focusing on the experience, Tosin Oshinowo states that her ultimate goal is to create architecture that leaves people with a very strong memory. “Before it becomes a floorplan, I walk through the space […] I curate the experience of going through the space and use that to determine the architecture”. Below Oshinowo discusses two of her favorite projects, their entry project for a regional temple for the Bahá’í Faith and Angels and Muse, an art space for Victor Ehikhamenor, a prominent Nigerian artist.

The Bahá’í Temple Competition

The Baha'i Temple- cmD+A . Image Courtesy of Parpend
The Baha'i Temple- cmD+A . Image Courtesy of Parpend

Contacted to participate in a competition to design a regional temple that would serve the biggest African Bahá’ícongregation in Kinshasa, Congo, cmDesign Atelier’s project reached final rounds. Based on strong typological principles, the imagined scheme is a non-segregated temple, designed without a central podium, but arranged to face the Qiblih, the location which Bahá’ís face when reciting their prayers. The project was inspired by old African huts, with a reshaped mud-red roof introducing light into the interior space of the building and covered with patterns similar to the abstract patterns on Kuban fabrics. The angled louvered windows are expandable to let in a comfortable amount of natural light and ventilation, ensuring that dust does not collect or settle.

Angels and Muse, Artspace for Victor Ehikhamenor

Angels and Muse- cmD+A . Image Courtesy of Parpend
Angels and Muse- cmD+A . Image Courtesy of Parpend

Known for his signature symbols inspired by writings from his hometown Udomi- Uwessan, Edo state, Victor Ehikhamenor is a prominent Nigerian artist who has exhibited and installed his art all around the world. Tosin Oshinowo and cmDesign Atelier worked closely with the artist to renovate an old office flat, transforming the space into art itself, where Ehikhamenor could work and live. Featured on Netflix’s Amazing Interiors, space is divided into a private part with a labyrinth portal, a living space, and 2 opposing bedrooms: one designed to express Victor as an artist, covered in his patterns, while the second room has minimal artworks on the walls. On another hand, the public part is a multidisciplinary space housing cheerful metal portrait sculpture.

James Inedu-George, Head of Design at HTL Africa

Architecture is about responding to time. It’s about capturing a moment in time.

James Inedu George. Image Courtesy of Parpend
James Inedu George. Image Courtesy of Parpend

James Inedu-George and HTL Africa first approach any project by investigating cultural factors that are introduced later on in their architecture. Exploring unconventional ideas, they ventured into a competition to design a mosque that could stand out among other iconic buildings, like the second-largest tower in Dubai.

The Iconic Mosque Competition

Iconic mosque- HTL Africa. Image Courtesy of Parpend
Iconic mosque- HTL Africa. Image Courtesy of Parpend

Imagining a structure, not a building, HTL’s proposal enhanced “the view of the tower and at the same time has aspirational and historical religious qualities”. Looking to drift from the traditional “dome on a box”, the design company suggested the opposite. "We flipped the plan from 'solid entrapping void’ to ‘void entrapping solid'." Going back to the core of the religion -that a pool of shade where people congregate is a mosque- the project is inspired by the palm tree, the first worship space. Fourteen pillars serve as prayer points for members of the faith, each featuring a staircase and lift that takes you to the top where an observation deck reveals views of the city and the tower. Including a moving roof that could serve as a typical roof or expand to become a prayer place with a skylight, the mosque is wrapped in glass so that tourists can also experience the space without going inside.

This article is part of the ArchDaily Topic: Young Practices. Every month we explore a topic in-depth through articles, interviews, news, and projects. Learn more about our monthly topics. As always, at ArchDaily we welcome the contributions of our readers; if you want to submit an article or project, contact us.

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Cite: Christele Harrouk. "Architecture x Nigeria: 3 Designers Discuss Their Favorite Projects and How They Created Them" 04 Nov 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/950646/architecture-x-nigeria-3-designers-discuss-their-favorite-projects-and-how-they-created-them> ISSN 0719-8884

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