classification of nigerian architecture

Topics: Nigeria, Architecture, Lagos Pages: 21 (4253 words) Published: April 14, 2014
Dr. (Mrs.) Bogda Prucnal-Ogunsote, Department of Architecture, Federal University of Technology, Akure.


This paper presents the classification of architecture of
Nigeria starting from pre-colonial until contemporary
times. It depicts the historical perspective and portrays
contemporary trends and movements. It shows the richness of Nigerian heritage and deciphers recent developments. A main achievement of this paper is a synthesised classification of Nigerian architecture. It portrays the Historical Style (represented by the European, Brazilian and North African Trends) through Traditional Architecture and the Modern Style (with the International Style, the New West African Style and the PostModern Trend). There is a very weak link between the Historical Style

(including Traditional Architecture), and contemporary
modern architecture of Nigeria. The Historical Style reveals how architects can draw inspiration from historical heritage as evidenced by the Regional Trend of contemporary Nigerian architecture. The author studied the work, ideas and aspirations of

some leading architects in the country in order to see
how the trends and styles of this genealogy relate logically to the contemporary situation. The presentation of contemporary masterpieces gives a general overview of
the recent situation and identifies the basic problems that
the designers are facing.
Style: Distinctive or characteristic expression of architectural ideas, as of a specified period in history.
Trend: To have a tendency or prevailing direction:
general tendency.


The period embraced by this presentation spans a
few centuries starting from pre-colonial times and
ending with recent developments. The genealogy
is portrayed by a model of evolution in Nigerian
architecture (Fig. 1).
The inspirations were drawn from such architectural critics as Kenzo Tange, Louis Khan, Ada Louis Huxtable, Nikolaus Pevsner and Charles
Jencks to mention a few. This paper often relies on
some recognized movements but some trends are
newly defined.


A basic distinction in Nigerian architecture can be
made between the North and the South, and this
is best pronounced by Traditional Architecture and
Traditional Style. The strongest influences on indigenous architecture were the introduction of Islam into Northern Nigeria, the return of the exslaves from the Americas (especially Brazil), and colonization. The Historical Style consists of the

European Trend followed by the Colonial Style.
The Brazilian Trend evolved into the Brazilian
Style while the North African Trend evolved into
Sudanese Architecture. The blend of Traditional
Architecture and Historical Styles formed Vernacular Architecture. Before considering the historical influences, a mention should be made of antiquity. The Nok civilization developed in the central part of Nigeria’s present territory between 500 BC and 200 BC. Possessing the knowledge of iron, these grassland people moved into the forest country (Clarke 1984) and that was when people “set up new homes” at

Ife and other places. The Hausas were then a
number of different people. Although knowledge
of the achievements of the Nok civilization is wide
it is difficult to imagine the form of their settlements. On the contrary knowledge of the architecture of the Middle Ages is rather extensive.

3.1 Traditional Architecture and
Traditional Style

The more stable and enduring towns of pre-colonial Africa developed because of the intense ritual of market activity. Oliver (1976) called these cities
pre-industrial cities, which were theatres of competition for the symbols of power and material well being. Initially, some towns emerged as collecting
points for wandering immigrants who used their
favourable locations as spiritual or cultural bases
for subsequent territorial...

References: Adeyemi, E.A. (1975-1976). Changing Traditional
Culture and Modern Architecture
(1977). Building Lagos. F. and A. Services, Lagos.
Awotona, A (1986). Aspects of Nigerian Architecture. In: NIA Journal Vol. 2. No.3. October-December, pp. 55.
Clarke, J.D. (1984). A Visual History of Nigeria.
Denyer, S. (1978). African Traditional Architecture.
Izomoh, S.O. (1997). Housing Provision and Management in Nigeria. Emiola Publishers Ltd,
Kultermann, U. (1969). New Directions In African
Oliver, P. (1976). Shelter In Africa. Barrie Jenkins
Ltd., London.
Langley (1976). Changes In The Production of The
Built Environment In Rural Areas
Payne, G.K. (1977). Urban Housing In The Third
Prucnal-Ogunsote, B. (1993).”A Study of Modern
Trends in Some Aspects of Architecture in
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