A non-governmental organization (NGO), Community Planning and Design Initiative (CPDI) Africa, called for the standardization of locally sourced materials for construction and architectural design.
The Founder and Executive Director of CPDI, Mrs. Nmadili Okwumabua, expressed this recently in Abuja, during a two-day workshop and excursion on Africa-Centred Architecture, organized by the NGO.
She said the event was designed to expose the 45 attendees to theoretical frameworks for developing new responsive architectural design languages through research, discussion and live interaction.
Okwumabua said standardizing locally sourced materials for constructions and architectural designs was key to preserving Nigeria’s culture and heritage.
According to her, it is important to expose architects to design philosophies that preserve culture and identity in the built environment.
“This while promoting the use and standardization of sustainable local materials for problem solving.
“We complain about affordable housing and the lack of adequate materials, but there are materials everywhere, but we don’t standardize them. What we need to do is have our architects and developers specify them in their projects,” Okwumabua said.
She, however, stressed the need for more research efforts to identify, explore and connect Nigerians to Afrocentric architecture.
“There is a need for research, if you don’t know you can’t do it. If you have no information, you have no idea, so research is important. If we don’t know each other, anyone can come and tell us that what we’re doing is wrong. Sadly, so much stigma has been attached to anything in Africa, but we are lucky to enjoy our music today. But take away the stigma, revalue what is African and bring it to the table,” she said.
Okwumabua further said that having the right policies is crucial to encourage Afrocentric architecture in Nigeria.
“Once our policy makers see that architects and planners are actually integrating this science and technology into the built environment, they will pass the laws that will be needed,” she said.
She also said that sourcing local materials for construction and architectural designs should be included in the school curriculum, stating that: “This will enable young people to acquire knowledge and skills and help to combat unemployment in the Nigeria.
“If a young man or woman wants to build a house, don’t wait too long to find the money. You can ask your friends to help you construct the building using local materials. It’s about knowing what you can do with your hands in a sustainable and affordable way”,? she says.
For her part, the owner of Mamba Cafe, Maitama Garden, Mrs. Zainab Akwanga, said, “Afrocentric
architecture brought a holistic approach to design with the aim of optimizing human comfort and well-being”.
Akwanga said she could build the cafe from locally sourced materials during the COVID-19 lockdown, adding, “we need to look within and harness resources to have a functioning society.”
Similarly, CPDI partner Ghandi Obiefule said the concept was vital to developing culturally and environmentally sustainable African architecture.
He instructed government at all levels to increase investments that would promote the use of locally sourced materials in architectural engineering.