Building Characters

Posted: November 13, 2014 by Chynnie in Architecture, Design
Tags: , , , , ,

shuttershock] I went on a trip recently to the eastern part of Nigeria. I should call it a tour because from Enugu, i went to Abatete, Ogidi, Okigwe, Uturu, Umuahia, Okigwe again, Enugu and then back to Lagos. This was mainly by road so i went through so many cities. On my way to Okigwe via Onitsha, around Ihioma or so, i saw lots of churches that looked like Mosques. If not for the crucifix, one would think it were a mosque. This reminded me of a well known hotel in Lagos which in my own opinion looks like a dormitory and its supposedly a big hotel in Lekki to be precise. This got me thinking how importantly we should take the character of the buildings we design. Does the character of the building you design portray its function? IMG_79400 download (1) Hotel in Lekki, Lagos. What does this remind you of? To me, this looks like a dormitory, even hostels in the university looks better than this. I hear the rooms are superb though.


Four point hotel, Lagos

This hotel has almost the same entry concept as the hotel in lekki and very simple windows too. But you can tell with one look that this is a hotel, the lighting of cause elevated its simplicity and made it look luxurious – This is the power of lights. I know we know this already, our building facades must reflect the design intent of the structure. Every building has specific functions and is designed for a specific purpose. The internal planning should be in co-ordination with the exterior facade that tells us the purpose of the building. The external appearance plays an important role in determining the purpose and the function of the structure. Architectural details must be taken into consideration, the materials to be used, the color you choose, even the building form should be able to reflect the design intent.


Central bank of Nigeria headquartes, Abuja

          Even without the CBN logo, you would not know this is an office complex.

Elephant-House Alausa

Elephant House Alausa, Ikeja

An office complex, but strongly looks like a government builidng, like a Ministry of Finance.

OZUBULU(Obi-Leo)1 (2)

Custom House by STOA Architects Nigeria

One look at this and you know its a residential building.   The character of a building depends strongly upon its capacity to express a particular function and status. No building can have a neutral character, its character should be able to reflect the function/purpose of the building. Just like an individual’s personality is made up of unique qualities resulting from a combination of genetic factors, environment, and upbringing, which distinguishes a person from others, so is a building distinguished from another.

Bay atlantic tower lekki

Bay atlantic tower, lekki Lagos.

Even with the play of colours in the front facade, you still know that this is an office/commercial building. In the bid to design a building with an amazing aesthetics, don’t forget your building character must be able to express its function. This can be achieved in various ways. The use of materials is one way. A lot of people believe you use specific materials for specific building types to depict a specific function. For example, Alucobond is strongly believed to be best used in buildings for official or commercial use and cannot be used in residential buildings. For me i believe its the way you use this materials that matters, i do think Alucobond can be used for residential buildings as well, especially in this era of Modern Architecture, you just have to use it right. The type of material you use and the way you use the material can help express the function of the building. 21-William-Street-Donvale-VIC-3111-Real-Estate-photo-1-large-6214509   502IMG_0195 100826a-103circle Look at the use of alucobond in the above residential buildings. Did you notice the use of different materials to tone down the official look of alucobond. 508150587_745 The use of alucobond in commercial/official building. The use of building elements such as windows, doors, roof, etc is another way to depict the function of a building. The size, the type and the way these elements are used should be well thought of because the character of a building also depends on them.

images (7)

National Church, abuja

One look at this building, you know its a church. Probably mainly because of the orthodox design of the windows.

The Zhongguancun Christian Church in China

This is also a church, without the usual orthodox sunburst window design we mosthly use to identify a church, but one look at it and you know its a church. Probably because of the crucifix at the top of the bell tower or the crucifix at the entry. And i really love this bell tower, so effortlessly morden. And finally, basic design principles (balance, harmony, scale/emphasis, contrast, repetition etc) should be well used. A symmetric entrance to a central block with a wide entrance to express balance  and rhythm indicates a public building. You should have a conscious knowledge of these principles to avoid portraying a wrong character of the building you design. Zaha Hadid designed a Hotel. The Hotel in some peoples opinion looks like a museum. Looking at the picture below, it really doesn’t look like a hotel. The hotel failed in having the character of its purpose.


City of dreams hotel tower, Cotai, Macau

hot   ho This is the interior of the City of dreams hotel tower. This makes me want to scream out loud.   In summary, always remember that the building you design must portray its function. I am not saying that the building should look like its function (eg a zoo that looks like an animal beacuse you are designing a building for animals). That is cool though, if you can do that. I am not a big fan of form follows function. I am only saying dont design a hotel that looks like a museum or a dormitory, dont design a kindergarteen that looks like a university, don’t design a residential building that looks like an office complex.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s