11 September 2017

Nigeria: Experts Advocate Sustainable Solutions for Construction, Built Environment

As the market for sustainable design and construction begins to grow, stakeholders in the construction, academic and built environment have advocated increased deployment of sustainable solutions in addressing such needs, especially in emerging markets like Nigeria.

With industry forecasts suggesting that material demand in the construction sector will double by 2050, considering the need for affordable housing that meets sustainability requirements and roads in many parts of Africa, especially Nigeria, smart solutions remain the viable alternative.

To this end, LafargeHolcim has staked $2-million to promote sustainable construction through a global competition that seeks to provide smart solutions for cities and the environment.

Speaking at the 5th International LafargeHolcim Awards for the Middle East African region in Nairobi, at the weekend, Saâd Sebbar, a Member of the Executive Committee of LafargeHolcim Ltd responsible for the region, said the awards was designed as a platform for the implementation of sustainable agenda by the cement manufacturer.

According to him, the global competition requests leading projects of professionals as well as bold ideas from the next generation that combine sustainable construction solutions with architectural excellence.

He explained that the feasibility of a project was a key requirement of the awards because the LafargeHolcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction, which is responsible for the Awards, seeks designs that go beyond current standards and deliver new, surprising, or truly visionary solutions to the way people build.

Indeed, the competition attracted 5,085 entries by authors in 121 countries, as only 1,836 projects passed the formal and quality checks and were assessed by five independent regional juries, hosted by partner universities of the Foundation.

Although the 75 entries from Nigeria did not qualify for the global Awards competition scheduled for 2018, the entries were acknowledged at the regional competition.

To however ensure that Nigeria takes the centre stage at the next edition of the awards, a Professor of Housing and Urban Regeneration at the University of Lagos, Gbenga Nubi noted that efforts are underway to build a strategic partnership with other stakeholders in the construction industry to foster professional exchange and ensure that next entries meet the criteria for sustainable construction.

According to him, Nigerians have several projects that can compete globally but only need to package such entries properly to satisfy the requirements of the awards.

A member of the jury for the regional awards, Kunle Adeyemi, said there is a lot of work to be done in orientating a lot of young architects and designers on the true values that are important in development today.

Kunle who is also the Founder and Principal of NLÉ based in Lagos, Nigeria and Amsterdam, the Netherlands, said: "construction goes beyond the fanciful, high profile and exotic looking designs of today but the issues affecting people and the environment. The use of materials that are local needs to be considered, as well as techniques of building that improve human and capital resources that we have.

"We need to understand these values. We are happy to encourage them and look forward to more entries from the young ones. LafargeHolcim gives an incredible opportunity to be recognised and rewarded for such kinds of work".

Although construction is a globalized industry with intensive exchange across continents, significant differences were seen between the projects in each region. "In Middle East Africa, poverty is one of the main issues," says Sarah Nichols, representative of the Academic Committee of the LafargeHolcim Foundation.

With their project, Mariam Kamara and YasamanEsmaili from the USA received the Gold award as they desire to create a platform for passing on such knowledge to the inhabitants of the region around Dandaji village in Niger by proposing to transform a mosque into a library.

Fatima-azzahraBendahmane from Morocco won the silver award for proposing a multi-generation complex in AïtBenhaddou in Morocco for training young people and promoting local manual skills, while Joana Dabaj, Riccardo Conti and MatteoZerbi of CatalyticAction in Lebanon won the bronze award for a proposal to provide a school for refugees in Lebanon to help prepare children for life after relocation.

While many of the awarded projects ultimately end up being constructed or produced, the LafargeHolcim Building Better Recognition award, which was awarded for the first time at the weekend, was received by Francis Kéré for his school building in Burkina Faso, a prize-winning project from a previous competition cycle that was described as a successful example of sustainable construction that has been built and stood the test of time.

Four projects in each region also received an Acknowledgement prize, while another four received the Next Generation prizes.

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