ARCON Calls for Improved Support for Architecture

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By Bennett Oghifo

President, Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON), Arc. (Sir) Dipo Ajayi, has called for improved support for the profession of architecture in Nigeria.

Ajayi made the call in Lagos, saying there was need to review ARCON’s activities, challenges and successes since he took over the reign of the office.

According to Ajayi, who became the president of the architects’ regulatory body in June 12, 2018, this would further guide the council to deliver more on their mandate towards the overall enhancement of architects and architecture in Nigeria.

Although he acknowledged that the journey has been herculean, the president, however said, the support of his council members has aided his administration to weather the storms and recorded some successes.

Serving with Ajayi’s executive are, Arc. Shamsuna Ahmed, vice president; Arc. Umar Murnai, registrar; and, Arc. Celestine Eze, the treasurer, respectively.

Also, the council has representative from each states of the federation, a representative of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), four members appointed by the Minister of Works and Housing, four members from the Nigeria Institute of Architects (NIA) and four members presenting the accredited Universities involved in the training of architecture.

The president, who said his council has continued to wax stronger, has been able to settle all issues relating to ARCON landed properties both in Abuja and Lagos.

“Thankfully, we have gotten the documents recertifying Abuja ARCON Office land located at Jahi with plot no. 1201/1203. We are now renovating Lagos office, which was awarded by the Ministry of Works and Housing and the contractor will soon deliver the project.

“The present council has also contributed over sixty million naira towards the construction of a befitting edifice to be called the ARCON headquarters to be situated in the already recertified ARCON land Abuja.

“We have expanded the scope of architecture by recognizing landscape architecture, interior design architecture, among others.”

Ajayi added that, the new ARCON offices would be fully automated such that, it will be able to respond to emerging challenges.

On Architects Projects Registration Number (APRN), the president said, apart from Federal Capital Territory, Lagos state has also accepted the initiative and implementation will commence soon.

Other achievements, according to Ajayi, include accreditation of foreign universities, sustenance of the induction of fully registered architects, architectural firms, architectural technologist/technicians and sustenance of accreditation exercises of all Nigerian universities teaching architecture to mention a few.

While admitting some milestones in architecture, Ajayi said, there is need to do more.

“To increase the rate and speed of development in Nigeria, the government should make available, start-up funds for young creative architects to start their own companies, which can be accessed through the bank of infrastructure formerly known as Urban Development Bank of Nigeria Plc, in collaboration with companies, construction agencies, the government and private individuals who are interested in funding start-ups in the construction industry.

The accessibility of start-up grants for young architects would increase the number of indigenous firms which would not only aid in the socio economic development of the country, but would also help to achieve the local content requirements, which are policies imposed by governments that require firms to use domestically-manufactured goods or domestically-supplied services in order to operate in an economy.

“Design and pitch competitions for architects who are used to collaborating and leading design teams, can also be organised at each registration level of architects with different criteria for accessing the funds and with the proper mentorship.

“With the shift in the dynamics of the construction industry, the traditional mode of starting an architectural firm is not sufficient for the built environment and the young professionals in the building industry to make an impact through the merging of technology and construction.

“To achieve this, the start-up path offers a way to have a potentially much bigger impact. It also helps in collaboration between the professionals in the building industry and the information technology industry.

On research, Ajayi said: “ARCON, just like RIBA, can also set up a research funding system for architects, which should be made directly to individuals either those in practice or academics and not to commercial businesses or to higher education institutions.

“The RIBA Research Fund awards annual grants to individuals conducting independent architectural research at any stage of their careers in practice or academia. The aim is to support critical investigation into a wide range of subject matters relevant to the advancement of architecture, and connected arts and sciences, in the United Kingdom” he said.

On loans, the president said that should also be made available for the procurement of modern equipment for indigenous companies, which would reduce construction time with a better output.

Ajayi also urged government’s partnership with on the development of smart homes. “ARCON has well-endowed architects and would want government at all levels to partner with us for the realisation of smart homes in Nigeria.”

Also, the president said, on urban regeneration, there is need for government to partner with ARCON to aid existing cities upgraded to global standard.