NGO advocates locally sourced materials for building construction

A Non-governmental Organization (NGO), the Community Planning and Design Initiative (CPDI) Africa, has called for the standardisation of locally sourced materials for building and architectural designs.

The Founder and Executive Director of CPDI, Ms Nmadili Okwumabua, expressed this recently in Abuja, at a two-day African centred architecture workshop and excursion, organised by the NGO.

She said the event was designed to expose the 45 participants to theoretical frameworks for developing new responsive architectural design languages via research, discussions and live interactions.

Okwumabua said standardising locally sourced materials for building and architectural designs was critical in 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 is while promoting the use and standardisation of sustainable local materials for problem-solving.

“We are complaining about affordable housing and that we don’t have proper materials, but there are materials everywhere, but we are not standardising them. What we need to do is for our architects and developers to specify them in their projects,” Okwumabua said.

She, however, emphasised the need for more research efforts to identify, explore and connect Nigerians to Afrocentric architecture.

“There is the need for research, if you don’t know, you cannot do it. If you don’t have information, you are clueless, so research is important. If we don’t know ourselves, anybody can come and tell us that what we are doing is not good. Unfortunately, so many stigmas have been attached to anything in Africa, but we are lucky we are enjoying our music today. But take the stigma off, value what is African again and bring it to the table,” she said.

Okwumabua further said having the right policies was crucial in encouraging afrocentric architecture in Nigeria.

“Once our policymakers see that architects and planners are actually incorporating this science and technology into the built environment, they will pass laws that will be required,” she said.

She also said sourcing for local materials for building and architectural designs be included in schools’ curriculum, stating that: “This will empower the youth with knowledge and skills and contribute in addressing unemployment in Nigeria.

“If a young man or woman wants to build a house, don’t wait too long looking for money. You can get your friends to help you in constructing the building, using locally sourced materials. It’s a question of what can you do with your hands in a way that is sustainable and affordable,”? she said.

On her part, the owner of Mamba Cafe, Maitama Garden, Mrs. Zainab Akwanga, said, “Afrocentric

architecture brought about holistic approach to design in a bid to optimise human comfort and wellbeing”.

Akwanga said she could build the café from locally sourced materials during the COVID-19 lockdown, adding: “we need to look inwards and harness the resources to have a society that works”.

Similarly, the CPDI partner, Ghandi Obiefule, said the concept was vital in developing African architecture that is culturally and environmentally sustainable.

He tasked government at all levels to increase investments that would promote use of locally sourced materials in architectural engineering.

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