CPDI To Preserve Heritage, Culture Through Research In Built Environment

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A cross section of dignitaries during the research hub grand opening in Abuja.

The founder and director of the Community Planning and Design Initiative (CPDI) Africa, Nmadili Okwumabua has emphasised that the Centre for Afrocentric Design Advancement (CADA) aims to promote African architecture.

At the launch of the centre, hosted at the African University of Science and Technology (AUST) in Abuja, a Nelson Mandela Institute, she stressed the importance of promoting African architecture to reflect the continent’s culture and heritage in the built environment.

“This research hub focuses on promoting African architecture by developing design languages that create comfortable and affordable spaces for Africans, both on the continent and in the diaspora. Our research is dedicated to preserving our heritage and culture in the built environment,” she explained.

Okwumabua highlighted the benefits that Nigerians can gain from this research, including heritage preservation, cost-effective building practices and tourism promotion.

A cross section of dignitaries during the research hub grand opening in Abuja.

“In Nigeria, affordable housing is a priority. Our research focuses on understanding the factors that contribute to expensive and uncomfortable housing. By teaching architects, urban planners, engineers, and developers to use climate-responsive and affordable materials, we can design spaces that are comfortable and cost-effective. For example, using clay bricks instead of cement can reduce the need for cooling systems, making buildings more energy-efficient. This approach benefits our society and nation as a whole,” she elaborated.

In addition to heritage preservation and cost-effectiveness, Okwumabua emphasised that promoting Nigerian architecture can boost tourism by attracting visitors interested in experiencing unique and culturally rich buildings.

The president of AUST, Prof. Peter Onwualu highlighted the school’s efforts to develop a curriculum that promotes African architecture, with the goal of obtaining approval from the Nigeria Universities Commission (NUC).

“The key focus is on raising awareness and promoting African architecture. While we are accustomed to Western architectural styles, it is essential to establish a distinct identity for African and Nigerian architecture. Our curriculum aims to integrate this focus, ensuring that future architects are equipped with the necessary knowledge. We are currently designing a curriculum that we hope will receive approval from the National Universities Commission (NUC) and be widely accepted,” he concluded. 

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