Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Zumthor's water rooms...

After a day of self-defeating, crabs-in-a-barrel dysfunctionality at work, I came home to our living room flooded with water, with a fountain sprinkling down from the light bulb socket.

I have momentarily forgotten why we are living in Nigeria when we have the choice to live elsewhere. I wonder what percentage of Nigerians would choose to stay here if they had the option to emigrate. Any takers?


Anyway, positive thoughts of rooms filled with water put me in mind of Europe's finest living architect, Peter Zumthor, and his bagging of the prestigious Pritzker prize earlier this week. The picture is that of the Thermal Baths at Vals. As my archi-friend Le Mec says, "He is in a class by himself. The baths at Vals are an amazing place to become human again."

Is there any better way to appraise the work of an architect than by their propensity to make us human again?

Zumthor explains the design concept for Vals thus: "Mountain, stone, water - building in the stone, building with stone, into the mountain, building out of the mountain, being inside the mountain - how can the implications and the sensuality in the association of these words be interpreted, architecturally? The whole concept was designed by following up these questions; so that it all took form step by step."

Can you imagine an architecture in Nigeria that began with thoughts such as these? Can you imagine a city built out of thoughts such as these? In troubling times, there is always the realm of the imagination..

6 comments:

morethandesigns 2:13 pm  

It is imaginable, but their are loads of constraints to make it a reality.

MsMak,  3:03 pm  

"Can you imagine an architecture in Nigeria that began with thoughts such as these? Can you imagine a city built out of thoughts such as these?"

Nope. I cannot. As an architectural enthusiast, it irks every day that there is very little in the way of well designed and constructed public or private spaces in Nigeria.

I have been gung-ho for a few years about moving back to Naija after school. But after returning from holiday in Lagos this last December, i suddenly question the wisdom of making that move...

Anonymous,  5:07 pm  

"I have momentarily forgotten why we are living in Nigeria when we have the choice to live elsewhere. I wonder what percentage of Nigerians would choose to stay here if they had the option to emigrate. Any takers?"............
I must really commend you for living in Nigeria,honestly i dont know where we Nigerians will start "rebuilding"our nation.......do u by any chance have any suggestions?....what do u think our strengths are as a nation,if any?

Seke,  10:28 am  

Well, I know there're many legit (& uniquely Nigerian) frustrations that make daily life in Naija a great difficulty, but is a leaking apartment really one of them? As far as I know, those can be found in any locality on the planet. That said, I sympathize about your place; floods are no fun. Best of luck drying out.

Anonymous,  11:56 am  

Tu demande, comme pourcentage des gens choisiraient rester en Nigeria.

Je pense les vieux, les plus riches et les choses qui pret mourir dans leurs ville d'origin . Tout le monde autres, courront a tout vitesse de pays-la, sans doute.

Giles,  12:29 pm  

Constraints make architecture !!!
@ MsMak ... architecture in Nigeria does have a few gems .... and do check a few examples of public parks in Abuja. Lagos is a different kettle of fish ... the open space requirements have been largely ignored by compromised development control officers ... the issues aren't that simple ... architecture emerges from a complex negotiation of client requirements, client awareness, the culture of architectural production and issues of meaning.

contemporary Nigerian society views the architect as a utilitarian tool whose sole purpose is to produce plans sans process ... the space to think is not given as the builder enjoys higher regard. Buildings are identified by the construction firm responsible for delivering ... quick question, can anyone name the architects for;
The National Stadium Abuja
The Conference Centre Abuja
The National Theatre Lagos
Elder Dempster House Marina Lagos
The National Assembly Building
Federal Government Colleges
Trenchard Hall University of Ibadan
Faculty of Science Lagos
Dominican Church Ibadan
Savannah Bank Lagos

Lots of work to do, we can start by discussing architecture and urbanism and its relevance to what is really a pre - industrial society.

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