Okwumabua: Building Environmentally Sustainable & Resilient African Architectural Homes

62
803

 

What does a modern African home, without colonial influence look like? “Eden”, says Urban Planner and Architecture Historian, Nmadili Okwumabua.

“It’d look like paradise. The concept of live, work, play, lived by Europeans, originated from Africa. In this community or estate, you’d have everything you need. It’ll have a courtyard, African aesthetic designs, it will have a community center for performing arts, lots of vegetation, and fruit trees. The houses will look like little works of art. The colours, the patterns and motifs will wow people. The furniture will be quite organic. In fact, it will be an imitation of a modernized African society without British colonization”.

When I met soft-spoken and soft-looking Okwumabua for an interview, I hardly suspected a rebel behind the gentle exterior. But that is precisely what it took in her 20-year journey to research, define and promote African Architectural Designs. Today, she is not only setting standards for modern African architecture, but further generating national and international discussions on the phenomenon via her project, The Community Planning & Design Initiative (CPDI) Africa.

 At a very young age, about five or six, Okwumabua knew she loved to build things. It was not until her high school days, when her family moved from Nigeria to the United States, that she realized that her unknown passion is termed Architecture.

She was quite excited to gain an admission in the field of the built environment, and worked hard to incorporate her African history and culture in her school projects. But every single time, she runs into impenetrable walls. The answers are always the same. Africa Architectural designs are non-existent.

“My lecturer said besides the traditional mud huts in villages, African architecture had progressed no further than what western world exported during the colonial era”. Rather than discourage her, the response triggered her 20-year research and study of African cultures and architecture. The study transposed into the CPDI project in 2015, an African architectural design competition which challenged architects worldwide to study and design their perspective of what a modern African house looks like.

Each participant in the competition studied an African culture and incorporated peculiarities of that culture into their graphic and built environment designs. The winning design must (and did) incorporate five major principles – African culture and lifestyle, affordability, religion, local building materials and aesthetics.

By incorporating these five major principle building blocks, Okwumabua promotes the environmentally sustainable and resilient nature of investing in African Architecturally designed houses.

A typical modern African house as it should be today without colonial influence, she says is ‘affordable, can be paid for by Nigerians, costs less than N4m; it works with local materials that suits the needs of the people, such as laterites and rammed earth that keeps houses cool, successful preventing expenses on air conditioner; it incorporates African motifs and symbols not just as aesthetics but also as symbols of fertility and good fortune; it further accommodates the culture and lifestyle of a people or community, and finally, naturally absorbs the religious lifestyle of its owner’.

“Burying an ancestor in the house, is a culture and lifestyle that has been inculcated into some African societies. When designing a modern building, rather than bursting up floorboards and cement when such circumstances occur, a modern architect will make provisions for this in a home.”

But land is not cheap in Nigeria. Homes are owned by the rich. And laterites are scarce. To promote the African Architectural designs, she noted certain factors are principal to its existence. First, government make land affordable, if not the political will to build affordable houses for its citizens. Two, government and urban development authority should legislate and make mandatory laws that promote use of local building materials, like laterite. “Development authorities can demand that ‘in order to get approval for any building, one must employ local materials. If a building is made of more than 25 per cent cement properties, you cannot build. If you do, it will be bulldozed down,” Nmadili enthused.

She recommends that training architects and students in design schools, kills two bird with a stone. Younger professionals gain familiarity of the phenomenon, and preach it to their clients. Likewise, clients increased demand for laterite houses, increases the supply and availability of laterites.

The next phase of her project looks at generating discussions between architects and prospective home owners via its think-tank seminars and workshops, in collaboration with concerned platforms to determine the impact of African architectural designs and how best to identify and satisfy the homely comforts of Nigerians via the phenomenon.

“People in America are happy, because they live in houses that culturally, environmentally and aesthetically suit them. They are living in the perfect architecture for their weather. It is up to us to find ours. CPDI starts the conversation and challenges, people in the built environment, to tackle this. Let’s solve our own problems,” Okwumabua concludes.

A typical modern African house is affordable, works with local materials that suits the needs of the people, and incorporates African culture, lifestyle and motifs. 

 

62 COMMENTS

  1. , I am SO excited that you guys are deciding to take the plunge. You won’t regret it, no matter what anyone else says. I promise you. Even if the tiny house thing do;s&n#8217et end up being your permanent adventure, it will definitely lead to what is.

    • I am excited about it too, Denim. Professor Okwumabua was really an exciting person to be around. Her words and outlook energizes everyone around her.

  2. I have been browsing on-line greater than 3 hours these days, yet I never found any attention-grabbing article like
    yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me.
    Personally, if all webmasters and bloggers made
    good content material as you probably did, the web shall be much more useful than ever before.

  3. Greetings from Carolina! I’m bored at the job and so i decided to have a look at your website
    on my small iphone during lunch break. I love the info you present here and can’t wait to have a look once i go back home.

    I’m amazed at how quick your website loaded on my own cell
    phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G ..
    Anyhow, fantastic site!

  4. An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment.
    I think that you should publish much more about this issue, it may not be considered a taboo matter but
    typically folks don’t talk about such subjects. To the next!
    Kind regards!!

  5. I simply couldn’t depart your website ahead of suggesting that I
    actually enjoyed the standard information someone provide within your visitors?
    Is going to be back regularly in order to check up on new posts

  6. I really love your website.. Excellent colors & theme.
    Have you build this website yourself? Please reply back as I’m attempting to create
    my personal website and desire to know that you got this from or just what the theme is known as.
    Thanks a lot!

  7. I got this web page from my buddy who told me on the topic
    of this website and at the moment this time I am browsing
    this website and reading very informative posts at
    this place.

  8. My brother recommended I would possibly like this web site.
    He used to be totally right. This put up truly made
    my day. You can not believe just how a lot time I had
    spent for this info! Thanks!

  9. Thanks for the marvelous posting! I quite enjoyed
    reading it, you will be an incredible author.I
    will ensure that I bookmark your website and may often keep coming
    back from the near future. I want to encourage one to ultimately continue your great work,
    possess a nice evening!

  10. I’ve been browsing online greater than 2 hours today, yet I never found any
    interesting article like yours. It can be pretty worth enough
    to me. During my view, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content when you did,
    the web is going to be much more useful than ever before.

  11. Hello there! This is kind of off topic but I need some guidance
    from an established blog. Is it hard to set up
    your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast.
    I’m thinking about creating my own but I’m not sure where to start.
    Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Appreciate it

    • Hi Ridges,

      I am not familiar with IT and Web design, so I simply hired a web designer to do the job for me, noting in clear details what I wanted from the colours to the design and content pages. Of course, we compromised where necessary to ensure the simple clean design that I wanted. You should try WordPress, I think they have something for users looking to create their own themes. Also try YouTube for videos on how to create web designs. Oh! and join the Rainmaker Podcast Platform for really good podcasts and publications on web designs.

  12. Greetings, I think your online site could be having internet browser compatibility issues.
    Whenever I review your website in Safari, it looks
    fine however, when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping issues.
    I simply planned to provide you with a quick heads up! Besides
    that, great website!

  13. Just desire to say your article is as astonishing.
    The clarity for your put up is simply great and that i could think you’re knowledgeable in this
    subject. Fine together with your permission allow me to grasp your feed
    to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thank you one million and please carry on the
    enjoyable work.

    • on the story Building Environmentally Sustainable & Resilient African Architectural Homes, I have discovered the quest won’t be an easy one. Until, bigger private building companies, have a change of heart to make profit as well as care about the environment, the quest will be a tedious one. However, we should lure them with the fact that they can be pioneers of societal change, and all the benefits that comes from running with a true vision.

  14. I used to be suggested this internet site by my cousin. I am unsure whether this post
    is published by him as nobody else know such detailed about my difficulty.

    You are amazing! Thanks!

  15. After I initially left a comment I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added I get 4 emails using the same comment.

    Will there be a method it is possible to remove me from that service?

    Kudos!

  16. Cool blog! Is the theme customized or did you download it from somewhere?

    A theme like yours by incorporating simple adjustements would really make my blog get noticed.

    Please inform me the place you got your theme. Thanks

    • It is a customized theme. I told my web designer the colours I wanted and we went back on forth on template designs until we compromised on this one. I can give you his contact if you want.

  17. My programmer is attempting to convince me to move to .net from PHP.
    I actually have always disliked the concept as a result of expenses.

    But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been utilizing Movable-type on a number of
    websites for roughly each year and am concerned about switching to another platform.
    We have heard great aspects of blogengine.net. Is there a way
    I will import my wordpress posts involved with it?
    Any type of help could be greatly appreciated!

  18. Great goods on your part, man. I have got have under consideration your stuff previous to and you are just extremely wonderful.

    I actually like what you’ve received here, really like what you are saying and the
    way wherein you say it. You’re making it entertaining and you will still take care of to stay it
    sensible. I cannot wait to learn far more from you. This really is really a wonderful website.

  19. Have you thought about including a little more than only
    your content? I mean, whatever you say is fundamental and everything.
    But think about should you added some very nice photos
    or videos to offer your posts more, “pop”! Your
    content is fantastic although with pics and videos, this website could definitely
    be one of many best in its field. Excellent blog!

  20. This design is steller! You undoubtedly realize how to
    keep a reader amused. Involving the wit plus your videos, I had
    been almost moved to start my very own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Wonderful job.
    I truly loved the things you were required to say, and over that,
    how you presented it. Too cool!

  21. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d most definitely donate to this outstanding blog!
    I suppose for the time being i’ll accept book-marking and
    adding your Feed to my Google account. I anticipate new updates and can speak about this blog with
    my Facebook group. Chat soon!

Leave a Reply to HangKAlvis Cancel reply