Design with Nature and Culture

Developing projects outside of the physical realm of Western architecture is always an interesting experience. The same considerations of history, identity, and cost are all taken into account but are reflected upon much more critically simply due to its foreign nature. Studio Jonah is fortunate enough to be undertaking this exciting endeavor with a commission for a residential home in Akure, Nigeria. The client, who had specified a ‘different’ design, hired Studio Jonah to provide a Western approach to the home.

This is where the word ‘different’ must be questioned. Nigeria, with such a strong sense of the vernacular cannot simply have a Western design imported in. How to balance the need for identity preservation with a desire for a modern edge? Rather than simply importing a design, it is important to translate Western values into Nigerian ones. Extracting what will provide enough of a thrill and challenge to the identity of a home yet at the same time preserving what works or is important to Nigerian culture.

Studio Jonah’s outlook is to create a modern aesthetic but have it built with the local sensibilities in mind. One of these sensibilities would be the use of CEBs – Compressed Earth Blocks, similar to Compressed Masonry Units and adobe but with better heat and humidity resistance. Omitting mortar and a shorter setting time makes it a practical application that will help retain some of the vernacular feel to the project.

Our interaction overseas with the client will prove to be a valuable one as Studio Jonah strives toward bringing a new outlook to Nigerian architecture amidst the distinct culture and climate. More updates to design and client feedback are imminent!