Architects seek practitioners’ response to city challenges

AS members of the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) gather this week in Abuja for its “BGM 2015”, development of the city will form the focus of technical paper presentations.

Specifically, the group’s conference coming between Wednesday 18th and Saturday 21st November, 2015, will the architects opportunities to expose its members on how best to response to city challenges.

According to the President of the Institute, Waheed Niyi Brimmo, the 55th Annual General Assembly and Conference with the theme “Development of the City (Past, Present and Future)” was conceived and programmed to expose all cadres of membership to definitive understanding of government roles in city development since 1999; architect’s emerging roles, sustainability templates for African cities and strategies to meet the challenges facing the city now and up to 2050.

It was observed that the Institute could no longer fold hands while observing negative trends of development. “While some of the large cities in America and Europe change and thrive; countless smaller and not so large cities in Africa, South America and Asia are marching further into violence and daily become less liveable.

The selection of the theme was principally informed by the need to make policy contribution to guarantee harnessing of the immense contributions of the city to socio-economic, safety and cultural development of Nigeria. Our traditional cities have great potentials waiting to be harnessed with design inputs.

We set sail two years ago when uncertainties clouded the nation but today we can see some silver linings in the sky. As an Institute we have made modest progress as reports at the last AGM and those to be presented during the Biennial General Meeting holding week will amply show.

Citing a renowned writer, who said, “He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human Institution which rejects progress is the cemetery”, Brimmo urged that as the nation grows and the Institute must show leadership by revealing things that must change and retains some that must not change, especially, integrity and professionalism in all areas of its endeavours.
“The question is therefore not change or no change but what must and what must not. So, if you don’t like something, change it and if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. In this case we must, as professionals of great repute, join hands with the government to actualize positive change, especially, in the built environment, which is our constituency”, he urged.

He postulated that every desired change must pass a 3-way test: Is it in the corporate interest of NIA and all her members? Will it enhance the practice of architecture and guarantee emergence of truly Nigerian architecture? Will it guarantee a better future for generations of architects to come?

On better living, he stated that the city is no stranger in the agenda of nations, international bodies, political parties, public authorities, research and professional groups, civic groups, non-government organizations and the embattled dwellers.

Early last century it became a major pre-occupation of pioneers of modern architecture. However the Nigerian City, as it was revealed early this century, have resilience, peculiarity and energy and will undoubtedly confound the most optimistic and innovative of these early Architects.

While some of the large cities of the world change and thrive, countless smaller and not so large cities of Africa, South America and Asia are marching further into violence and thus less liveable. Six hundred of the former, according to statistics, account for two-thirds of global GDP. It is increasingly probable that the city rather than the state will determine stability and development by the mid-century. The city whether at global or local level is thus worth considering.
“As an Institute, we have in the recent past considered the city and yet at this first conference under a new political dispensation its development is our concern and our theme. It is a truism that only the Architect gives form and meaning to what has become the habitat of the increasingly high proportion of children, youth, grown and the aged. Proffering sustainable solutions to the city’s myriad challenges is, therefore, a call on Nigerian architects to duty”.

Other activities at the event include the reports of the 25th Council that are billed for presentation during the BGM Business Meeting on Saturday 21st November followed by Elections and Gala Nite where among other activities the investiture of Tonye Oliver Braide, an architect as the 26th President of the 55-year old Institute will be performed.
Registration, Material Exposition, Tour of Abuja, Council Meeting have been slated for Wednesday while the Conference kicks off on Thursday 19th. Specialised programmes are packaged for student and graduate members from Wednesday 18th to Friday, 20th.

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