Issues of regeneration, rebuilding, recreating and reinventing Nigerian cities to reduce slum development takes centre stage as architects have been challenged to create a building design system to take care of the poor. DAYO AYEYEMI reports
It is no longer news that Nigerian cities -Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Kano, Kaduna and Enugu among others, are faced with the challenges of urbanisation with Lagos taking the lead with an estimated population of 20 million people.
This has resulted to overcrowding, dilapidated houses, incessant collapse of buildings, collapse of infrastructural facilities, increase in slum settlements due to accommodation shortage, and high crime rates in the metropolis.
A tour of Lagos Island Central Business District, Ajegunle, Iwaya, Ilaje, Amukoko and Itire communities will reveal the number of people living in poor housing condition and degraded environment in the metropolis.
All these issues were again brought to the fore when stakeholders, comprising both local and international in the built environment profession and policymakers converged on Lagos with a call to architects to craft modern designs that will accommodate the poor, especially slum dwellers to the larger society.
Head, Department, Medical Microbiology, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Professor Folasade Tolulope Ogunsola, led these calls at Lagos Architects Forum, themed: “An Architectural Autopoiesis.”
He described Lagos as a city of beautiful architectural edifices alongside terrible slums, pointing out that these slums would continue to creep into every area including Victoria Island, Ikoyi, Banana Island and Government Reserved Areas (GRAs), except something urgent is done to address the accommodation needs of the poor.
She said : “It is a matter of time, we will find them all there. The poor service the rich, they can’t afford to live far from where they work so they are going to build shanties close to where they live.” The professor of clinical microbiology stresses the need to rethink the way Nigerian cities were being developed with conscious effort to provide housing units for the poor in locations not too far from their workplaces.
She quipped: “Should we not be rethinking how we construct our cities? Should we not have homes of the poor not too far from the homes of the rich? And if we must do that, should we not be rethinking how we are constructing for the poor?”
Ogunsola lamented that over lack of affordable housing for the populace with over 70 per cent of the people living in slums, stressing that slums were full of human beings.
Calling for a change among design experts, the professor noted that architects designed for the rich while the poor created their own shelter. Chairman, Nigerian Insti tute of Architects (NIA), Lagos chapter, Mr.Fitzgerald Umah, said the forum would address the issues of regeneration, rebuilding, recreating and reinventing in the light of current economic recession.
Ogunsola however, expressed fears that Lagos and Nigerian state were in crises on many levels as the system could no longer provide public health to majority of the people.
According to NIA President, Tonye Oliver Braide, the rest of the world is moving, Nigerians require a new thinking and members should think differently by networking about their designs. Commissioner for Waterfront Development and Infrastructure in Lagos State, Mr. Ade Akinsanya, an engineers, who represented Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, urged architects to join hands with the government to develop Lagos.
Also, his Physical Planning and Urban Development counterpart, Wasiu Abiola Anifowoshe, stated that the state government was partnering with the private sector towards the regeneration and urbanisation of the state into a befitting megacity that is livable and economically buoyant.
To this end, the government through the Lagos State Urban Renewal Agency (LASURA) has provided a template for continuous improvement in identifying slum areas sush Ijora/Oloye, Adeniji Adele and Iwaya.
Anifowoshe said that the government had completed the redevelopment of Isale Gangan Phase 1 project by pooling together 13 land holding families with smaller plots of land to encourage meaningful development that is sustainable and in consonance with global best practices.
“The result of this collaboration is the erection of an 11-floor structure with 48 serviced luxury apartments and a multipurpose hall on the 6th floor on a 2,500 square metre land area funded by the state government. The structure is completed and ready for sale,” he said.
The commissioner stated that another project involved the redevelopment of Isale Gangan Phase , involving 2,465.913 square metre of land for a 13 floor apartment structure.
He revealed that compensation had been paid to families involved, adding that the same process is going on in Adeniji Adele Phase 1 –V in order to improve the quality of the environment.
He said: “This is being done with the endorsement of the resident association’s decision to redevelop the entire 720 housing units into a residential mixed development of 2500 to 3500 units. “
As part of state government efforts targeted at five per cent reduction of the number of slums, the ministry engaged 25 communities among, which are Amukoko, Mosafejo, Gaskiya West, Ajowa community, Abete, Badia/Oguntayo North, Oworonsoki, Daramola community. These communities have expressed their willingness to work with government in regenerating and redeveloping their communities,” the commissioner added. Cities are engines of growth.
There is need for design and settlement experts to embrace modern architecture to turn around fortunes of Nigerian cities through urban renewal and regeneration to meet needs of citizens.