Time to Return to Sustainable Architecture


Professor Michael Adeloye Adebamowo, in his inaugural lecture says there is no better time to reshape the world’s built environment than now. And that the direction to go is for Nigerians to imbibe the principles of sustainable architecture, Peace Obi reports

The Ade Ajayi Hall of the University of Lagos, on Wednesday, May 10, hosted the fourth inaugural lecture from the Department of Architecture 46 years after its establishment during 1971/1972 academic session. The lecture which also served as the sixth for the 2016/2017 academic session was also the seventh for the Faculty of Environmental Sciences and was delivered by Professor Michael Adeloye Adebamowo of the Department of Architecture, Faculty of Environmental Sciences.

To many, the inaugural lecture was a significant achievement, a beam of light that revealed some of the great works and academic prowess of the department led by lecturer, Adebamowo. As though welcoming a long awaited treasure, the turn up of guests was huge which may leave Adebamowo’s inaugural lecture with the remark of a well attended, if not the most well attended inaugural lecture in the history of the citadel of learning. The guests who cut across all walks of life came from different parts of the world. Well represented were the academics, industry, government functionaries, clergy, royalties among various groups in different attires was said to be a measure of the lecturer’s span of influence.

About 30 minutes to the event that is billed for 4pm, the venue was almost filled up. Leaving one to think that the early arrival of guests, was a preemptive move to secure a space. Religiously submitting themselves for security checks, the guests anxiously filed into the hall as though going for a new discovery.
And just like the enthusiastic move of the crowd suggested, the lecture though an academic research work and scientific in nature, amazingly turned out to be some practical and environmental-friendly solutions to the various challenges posed by the climate change, population increase and the ubiquitous influence of telecommunications, among others on Nigerian environment.

Delivering the lecture titled, ‘Sustainable Architecture: A Return to Nature Through Biomimicry’, Adebamowo said that in addressing the problems, there is a compelling need to reshape the built environment in the light of current global challenges. According to him, it has become necessary for Nigeria to return to designing and constructing appropriate buildings that are relevant to her society and climate.

Deliberating further on the principles of sustainable architecture, Adebamowo said it requires man to return to nature. “There is a need for us to return to nature and returning to nature simply means returning to fundamentals, returning to God and returning to sustainable architecture through biomimicry. This simply means that we should not just copy designs and construct buildings that are not climatic responsive, that are not environmentally inclusive, that are not socially responsive and are not economically viable.

“The message of sustainability is that the building has to be environmentally responsive, socially inclusive and economically viable. And when we do this, then the building will be energy efficient and water efficient. And with the problem of climate change, global economic recession, there is need for us to return to designing appropriate buildings, relevant to our society, relevant to our climate. That is the message of sustainable architecture, he said.” And for the message of sustainability to transverse across all strata of the society, he said, “there is need to create awareness of sustainability to cut across the society so that we can all imbibe sustainable practices as simple as making sure that we reduce waste, making sure that we do not mess up the environment, we do not litter the environment, we don’t spit saliva anyhow, we stop the use of generators when we can imbibe renewable energy, design buildings in such a way that they are naturally ventilated, naturally lit. And in such a way, we will be able to cut down energy used in buildings.”

Disclosing that the challenges encountered in the process of the research were numerous, Adebamowo however revealed that challenges in architecture are stepping stones into exercising their creativity and architectural ingenuity in coming up with solutions. “Architecture has to do with solving the challenges of the built environment and really that is no problem,” he said.

Attesting to the practicability of Adebamowo’s research, the Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos, Prof. Rahamon Bello said that Adebamowo has been applying sustainability principles in all the projects that he has been doing for UNILAG and that many other projects that he is doing outside are based on that principle.

Analysing the sustainability principles further, the VC said, “what he is saying is that architecture should go beyond just putting blocks together and every other things. You have to be able to input nature and what is available within the environment to ensure that we have sustainable designs, and that, I can attest to he is practicing.”
Describing Adebamowo as a very hard working, very professional and a very sustainable person himself, the VC said he is someone the academic community reposed so much confidence in. “We believe in him and he is doing what he knows best in architecture.” Speaking further, Bello noted that opportunity abounds for anyone who wishes to excel in the academic environment. “If you want to be in academic system, there are opportunities for everybody, but what we do here is to ensure that we add value to our profession and to anything we do. That is what academics is all about. You carry out researches and then you put your findings into what you profess and then make it practicable to people, that is really what the university is all about,” the VC said.

And for a bosom friend of Adebamowo, Bishop David Adeoye who came all the way from the U.S. to grace the occasion, said that he won’t miss celebrating the moment with his childhood friend who has found a greener pastures in Nigeria for anything in the world. “I came all the way from the U.S. to fellowship and rejoice with my friend, Professor Michael Adebamowo. He is my childhood friend. We have been together in our teenage age, we did almost everything together before I moved down to the United States of America and of course, he found greener pastures here in Nigeria.”

Describing the professor as a blessing to this generation who has continued to touch lives in different areas, Adeoye said that he is a principled and a man of integrity whose influence spans to different sectors, professions and society strata. “His academic achievement is just one of the many things that God has done in his life. I know he is going to touch many lives in different areas. He is a minister of the gospel and a very successful man in different areas of life. So, I know to the world, he is a blessing. The generation we are in has received a tremendous blessing from God. Mike Adebamowo is a gift from God to our nation and our generation,” Adeoye said.

For a lecturer in the Department of Architecture, David Adio-Moses, his HOD, Prof. Adebamowo is better described as a transformer who does not only carry out practicable research, but someone who both colleagues and students have found to be a pillar and a ladder to greater heights. According Adio-Moses, “he has transformed the facilities and improved the quality of our curriculum and many other things we have done at the department level.” Mentioning a few of the department’s achievements, he said, “we just had our ARCON – Architect Registration Council of Nigerian accreditation, which went well. He has carried out a lot of innovations and also making sure that there is improved quality in terms of our work, not just for students but also for the lecturers. We have won several international competitions and I even presented one of the awards from the Lagos Housing Fair recently.

“He is doing a lot for the department. The students have really gained a lot. We have the orientation of not just having designs that are functional but designs that make impact in society. We are aware of the global warming and problems of environmental pollution, so we try to emphasise on architecture that can actually transform the environment and make positive impact on the society,” Adio-Moses said.

Among the dignitaries that graced the occasion include Deputy Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kolapo Olusola, Pastor and Pastor (Mrs.) Tunde Bakare of Latter Rain Assembly, Apostle Bank and Sharon Akinmola of Word Outreach Missions Inc. Atlana, USA, Rev. and Mrs. Milton Job, Prophet Olu Oshodi, Prof. Clement Adebamowo, among others.