Issues of urban regeneration to architectural designs, smart city, affordable housing and climate change were again brought to the fore by architects and professionals in the property sector last weekend. Dayo Ayeyemi reports
Rising from a three-day brainstorming session, Nigerian architects have been tasked to mount pressure on the government to formulate policies and invest in affordable housing estates for low-income earners.
Besides, they were also urged to achieve sustainability by incorporating the use of local materials in their projects, as well as engage the government to make it a priority to stop deforestation, encroachment into bogs, wetlands, mashes and swamps.
Participants at the forum cut across diverse stakeholder groups from public service, private sector, academia, and allied professions to artisans and building construction material manufacturers and suppliers.
Themed: “Lagos 9.0 – An Architectural Regeneration 1 – The Lagos Response,” the experts in a communiqué issued at the end of the forum, called on architects to sensitise the government to ensure that every compound had minimum of one tree, and that the number of trees should be calculated based on size of compound.
“Architects should try to achieve sustainability by incorporating the use of local materials in their projects. They should design with identity in mind, a sense of belonging, which should be into our architecture,” they said.
The experts also urged the government to encourage and promote local materials industry and that it should concentrate resources in building up areas that will yield greater resources.
“Such projects would take time and as such, there is need for focus, regardless of change in administration,” they said.
Represented by Deputy Director in the Ministry of Housing, Remi Adebo, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, said it was no longer news that the state government was working towards transiting from a mega city to a smart city.
He said his government was geared towards achieving a mega city status, adding that it starts with architects.
He noted that the theme of architectural regeneration was very relevant and in line with the government’s approach towards creating the mega city.
“Plans of regeneration has lead us to embarking on various projects in and around the state including some laudable projects such as the Ilubirin residential scheme, Oworonshoki mega transport hub, transformation of Epe and revitalisation of Oshodi,” Ambode said.
One of the speakers, Roman Oseghale, an architect, stated that the housing industry remained a major booster for economic growth, noting that the nation’s housing deficit stood at 17million as at 2013, and that the estimated worth of housing deficit was $302billion.
“About 720,000 housing are needed annually but we can only produce about 350,000. An estimated 70 per cent are living in poverty with about 8,000 added to extreme poverty daily. There was an urban population of 48.6 per cent (90.4m) at the end of 2016,” he said.
According to him, while justifying the need for regeneration of Lagos, he said it had an estimated population of 18million to 21million people and a projected population of 36million by 2050, adding that its housing demand grows by 20 per cent annually.
“In 12 years, Lagos population increased from 8million to 18million. It has a population density of 5,381 people/Sq.km, a GDP of $136 billion, and 30 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP. It also holds 70 per cent of Nigeria’s industrial capacity and accounts for 90 per cent of Nigeria’s foreign trade flow, “he said.
Chairman, Lagos Chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Mr. Fitzgerald Umah, said the 2018 LAF was a forum to walk the talk, get the details and proffer solutions to problems, noting that Lagos has been shrinking, not because the landmass has been reduced but because “the population is growing at a very fast rate.”
According to him, failure to respond and regenerate into a more resilient organism or organisation could only result in systemic stagnation and eventual decay.
Speaking on” regeneration – The East Village Story,” Adjunct professor at the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Environmental Design , Bill Chomik, pointed out that architects had stepped outside the box to play a seminal role by preparing the master plan, using innovation and creativity as design drivers.
This model, he stated, could readily be replicated in other cities where physical renewal and invigoration of a degenerated urban environment is envisioned.
Another expert, Rear Admiral Houtonu, who was passionate about regeneration, said that a lot of Nigerian towns and cities have been overtaken by what is called ‘the Inner City Syndrome.’
Citing what had been done in the East Village in Canada, she said that there was nothing wrong with concentrating resources in building up areas that would yield greater resources.
When participants coalesce next year, they want to see how architects have applied these solutions suggested to solve the issues raised.
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