Architecture is driver and reflection of the economy – Arc. Ninah Briggs

Arc. Ninah Briggs

The immediate past Chairman of Nigerian Institute of Architects, Abuja Chapter, Arc. Ninah Briggs speaks to newsmen about the essence of architecture in the society. He talks about the person of an architect and the contributions of architecture in the development of a country.

He made these disclosures at the 16th Abuja International Housing Show.

Excerpts: 

May we know you officially?

My name is Ninah Nimi Briggs.

I am an architect in the private sector; I am the immediate past Chairman of the Abuja Chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Architects.

What is architecture?

Architecture is a driver and a reflection of the economy. Reason I say that is because the general societal understanding is that architecture has only to do with building, pretty pictures, pretty buildings and all that. No, that is barely 5 – 10% of what architecture is.

Architecture involves the planning and the design of the entire gamut of all human development space.

And when I say human development space, I mean everything from the urban scene to the domestic scene; everything from natural habitat to artificial habitat.

It is all encompassing. Designing a building is just one small component of it. You have everything from understanding the finances, behind development, understanding environmental change issues behind development. Understanding the social implication of what you are going to do; understanding economic implications of what you are going to do. When I say economic implications, I am talking of short, medium and long term implications.

I am talking about what role the population plays. And in reverse what your actions bring to the population.

So there is a whole gamut of things that a lot of people do not understand that architecture has to do with.

What are the essences of architecture in the development of a country?

Architecture is a driver and reflection of the economy. I will give an example that almost everybody loves to quote.

Think of Dubai. Dubai is a subset of the United Arab Emirate. For the past two or three decades, the UAE has transformed itself from a cluster of fishing villages to a global business and hospitality destination.

Dubai is a subset of the UAE, but if you look at the GDP of Dubai across the past say ten to twelve years, it has been climbing. In fact as at 2022 the GDP of Dubai is about 550 billion dollars. The combined GDP of ECOWAS (which Nigeria belongs to) is barely 725 billion dollars as at 2022.

Now if you look at the trend of Dubai in the past years, you find that it is an architecture driven economy; because if you look at Dubai in the 1980s or so, it was nothing but desert land with fishing communities.

Now Dubai has changed and investors see that and are attracted to that and go there to spend their money.

So, architecture is creating employment, education, infrastructure, development etc.

Who is an architect?

An architect is someone who solves problems for you.

In what ways?

An architect may come into a space where there is nothing and thinks up solutions that can make something out of that nothing.

I didn’t say drawing, I didn’t say designing. No. You have a problem in society. As an architect I should be able to discuss issues that are transport related.

As an architect I should be able to discuss issues that are health related.

We are talking about pandemic and how people and how populations interact and affect one another .

As an architect I should be able to talk about water infrastructure because there is an understanding of how people live, how urban systems work and how that affects water and vice versa.

So an architect solves problems for you. I didn’t say designing, designing is just one small aspect of it.

Why are we here?

The Abuja international housing is probably the biggest housing fare, I will say not within Nigeria but possibly within the Africa sub- region.

The platform has been on-going for over thirteen years. And it is a gathering of stakeholders in the building sector of the economy.

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