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Architects tasked on proper approaches in cities’ design

By Victor Gbonegun
11 October 2021   |   4:18 am
The President, Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Sonny Echono, has charged practitioners to adopt proper approaches and trends that will shape the built environment.

Building plan. Photo; PIXABAY

The President, Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Sonny Echono, has charged practitioners to adopt proper approaches and trends that will shape the built environment.

Echono gave the advice at an event to mark this year’s World Architecture Day (WAD2021). The day is marked every first Monday in October yearly. This years’ celebration is themed, “Environment for a Healthy World” and was commemorated worldwide by various groups and associations.

He said with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, new concepts were applied in the use of spaces that promotes physical distancing between people.

Echono emphasised that it has become very clear that there were not enough open public spaces in cities to provide places, where people can walk, interact and move around without attendant health crisis.

This situation, he declared, requires stronger government interventions, architectural and urban planning design measures that ensure adequate open and public spaces.

For him, the natural green areas in cities must be protected and properly maintained to enable cities regenerate more efficiently and sustainably.

He said: “As we continue to see the adverse consequences of climate change worsen by the year, it is becoming quite obvious that as architects, our responses must take centre stage. Renewable energy must be incorporated into architecture, while ensuring that our buildings are designed to be more environmentally-friendly and energy efficient.

“On its part, government must support the push to zero-emission world as a matter of urgent priority, while NIA will through its climate action and sustainable development initiatives, support government by proposing practical solutions in infrastructure and housing for immediate implementation in the battle against climate change.

“It is very clear that the pandemic is a health, social, economic and political emergency. It will also not be out of place to classify it as housing emergency as well as with overcrowded dwellings being a major factor in rapid spread of infections.”

To highlight these issues in the public arena and attract the critical attention for sustainable actions, he said the institute has instituted a yearly awards, which will recognise persons and corporate entities that are making positive contributions to addressing these urgent and emergent issues.

“Architects have played and continued to play very important roles in society and the economy. Every habitable space employed for dwelling, offices, factories and recreation are products of architects. Our work is a combination of science and art, which draws on and intertwines with politics, economics, sociology and psychology.

The architects’ president revealed that data has shown a higher percentage of deaths in persons living in poorly ventilated and overcrowded conditions with little or no access to clean water.

He added: “In healthcare facilities, persons infected with the virus had for higher chances of survival in well-ventilated spaces where recommended physical spacing between patients could be maintained. This undergirds our collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources on the WASH Programme.

“When the basis of our societies and economies are being re-evaluated, public spaces have become more relevant and necessary than ever. In our prime role of providing creative solutions to evolving challenges, it is now necessary as architects to adopt proper approaches and trends that will shape the built environment around the world.”

Ecohono, who is also a Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, stressed that architects play a critical role not only in creating stronger, more sustainable and better-connected communities and cities but more importantly healthy communities and living spaces, which have become an existential imperative in a post pandemic world.

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