On my last visit to Lagos, Nigeria, I came across what I would call the most beautiful building in Lagos. It is located at Alfred Rewane Street, Ikoyi. It is popularly called the Kingsway Tower.
While approaching the building through the popular Falomo Bridge, I was greeted by its large curvilinear, intricately detailed shading device suspended on its curtain walls separated along its vertical axis by multiple layers of draping plants rising to the full height of the building.
Quite honestly, several things crossed my mind when admiring this building. While returning to Lekki, I ensured that the vehicle I was in passed by Kingsway Road just to get another glimpse of this fascinating architectural piece. On staring at the building a second time, I suddenly realized what it takes to be a great architect.
Let’s focus on the exterior screen for example, what if another type of curvilinear screens were used over the curtain walls? How would this building have turned out? I say so because these screens together with the undulating facade canopy defined the character of the Kingsway building. The gigantic sizes of these 2 items would make any error in the choice of materials or components amplified.
To me, as far as the facade design was concerned, it appeared as though the architect clearly knew what he wanted, where to source materials and building components to achieve his ideas and how to put these together to create an outstanding building. I would also give the building contractor some credit but the architect must have specified rightly for him to achieve the construction.
I have always known that iconic buildings don’t need much in terms of designed to stand out aesthetically, just a few bold and well informed exterior moves together with the right building materials and/or components and they become unforgettable.
This led me to think about the average Nigerian architect (myself included). After coming in close contact with the Kingsway Tower, I asked myself if I could design a building as that and I said YES. Then I asked myself again if I could put together a building like that, honestly, I think NO. It simply dawned on me that it isn’t only about design but the architect’s ability to stay versatile and updated with building components, materials, techniques and technology. He ability to produce sufficient specifications, details, shop drawings etc to reduce ambiguity and promote clarity on what exactly is expected of the building contractor.
I feel this is an issue that cuts across a good number of architects in Nigeria. Most of our theatrics and acrobatics in facade manipulations and articulations are done at best with concrete and cement blocks leaving our buildings to appear cubic and unexciting.
What distinguishes a great architect from an average one isn’t his ability to design because they both can but his ability to creatively and knowledgeably put together (build) what was conceived for all to see and behold. This he can only achieve when he trains himself to be versatile with materials and building components.
Kingsway Tower was designed by SAOTA (South Africa) in collaboration with local architects, Consultant’s Collaborative Partnership (Nigeria). It was developed by Sky view Towers limited and completed in 2018.