Developers, builders hard hit as architects list gains, pitfalls of new forex regime
With the nation witnessing a slowdown in construction and real estate activities, architects believe that the lull in the sector is a blessing in disguise for the industry.
They say developers and builders have been forced to develop homegrown solutions for affordable housing in the country due to high exchange rate of the naira to dollars.
The President of Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Tonye Oliver Braide, who disclosed this at ArchiBuilt 2016 in Abuja, said, “before, developers were eager to seek solutions outside our shores than look inwards when it comes to building design and construction.”
The result of this attitude, he said, “may partially be contributing to our ever-growing housing deficit because each time we make an effort in developing mass housing we actually end up expanding the economies of foreign countries.”
He said: “We have to develop the process of commercializing the production of local materials for buildings. This will involve developing the entire value chain of using local materials in building construction.”
“Many builders have used local materials to achieve marvelous masterpieces like most of the Palaces in Northern Nigeria and the vanishing walls in Kano as well as their historic gates.
“Many examples are dotted across the length and breadth of Nigeria,” Braide stated.
He stressed that local materials were the materials indigenous to our communities, which have been in use in our early settlements to present day.
“They represent the cultural identity of the Nigerian people and can form the template to develop Architecture that can truly be called Nigerian.
“We have to develop production optimization and sustainable methodologies to make the products cost effective and competitive. We have to add value to the existing process and develop the practice as going concerns.” He added.
The NIA President argued that local content would create jobs, save foreign exchange but may not be top in class in global standards, adding, it could develop the capacity to transfer technology to local materials and make them competitive in the global market.
“Building industry has to accept the existence of innate qualities to exhibit architectural capacity and this will open the doors to accepting local materials as usable materials for building construction. The challenge is in the mind.
“If we cannot believe in local materials as potent building materials and understand their attributes and properties, then we cannot design buildings using the materials. The artisans and craftsmen who successfully use these materials are therefore actually the master builders.
“We must open our doors to regularize the practice of village level designers and constructors by learning the secrets of the trade, to create the opportunity to develop on the quality sustainability and infuse them to national acceptance of local building materials.”
“NIA has to be pragmatic in seeking solutions to low and middle-income affordable housing. We should not stop at fancy talk and consignment of all the material from this forum and exposition to the bookshelf. Apart from seeing a few exhibitors displaying local materials; we expect to see the mock-up of a 100 percent Nigerian House,” he added.