African Design Magazine November 2015 - Page 86

Since graduating what kinds of projects have you done? What were the most tasking or endearing projects? I have been in practice for ten years which is still quite short, in Europe I would be regarded as a young architect because over there a young architect is someone who is beginning to form their own creative identity. You’re an architect once you have crossed over and started to have finished buildings and people are beginning to see a style of architecture related or unique to you. I have worked on a lot of projects from various offices. Before I left London, I worked with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP SOM an American practice on a project in Qatar. When I left London, I worked in the Office for Metropolitan Architecture Rotterdam and the one that stands out the most was the proposal for the fourth mainland bridge, which will be between Ajah and Ikorodu road. We did a concept for a double decker bridge with a pedestrian section on the lower deck and vehicles on top. I was part of the bridge design team of six people for two and half months. The process was very intense, very creative and forward thinking. 86 I spoke with someone yesterday who works in Lagos State Government and he said when the bridge was presented in 2009 they thought it was crazy and wondered why anyone would think of such, but it eventually grew on them. It’s funny because while we were over in Rotterdam we thought it was so amazing and the reaction in Nigeria was the complete opposite. When I got back to Nigeria I worked with James Cubitt Architects for four years. One particular project, which stands out, was the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas project in Port Harcourt. The most important thing I learnt from that project is the involvement of stakeholders and how you have to carry everyone along during the planning process. It would be nice to see the building when the project is finished; how the multi layered decision making process has been translated into reality and how people use the space. Those are large projects, how about now, what are you working on? We currently have under construction a shopping mall and on the scale of shopping malls it is quite small. The Maryland Mall is replacing the old Maryland shopping complex. It’s a five storey building with a basement for parking, a Shoprite, four Genesis cinema screens. We are proud as it’s an indigenous shopping mall. For me, what has been a frustration or challenge since coming back to Nigeria is the reliance on foreign architect and how people say we need the South Africans or the British to design for us. The thing is, I am part of the ongoing generation sent away for school and then you come back home and still hear the same things being said before you left. That was the reason our parents paid huge fees for us to study abroad.