With a view to entrenching a culture of sustainability in Nigeria’s urbane architecture to the point where it can leave a legacy that would see future generations enjoying its iconic buildings in real time instead of through the pages of historical text or slides, the initiators of Open house Lagos seeks to address this.
According to the organisers, “the Open House project seeks to connect tourists and the local population to the architecture of specific buildings in the town – some of these buildings are not usually open to the public.”
Speaking to journalists, Olamide Udoma-Ejorh said, ‘‘the first edition of Open House Lagos took place in April 2016, with the primary aim of encouraging tourists to explore the built environment of Lagos. Through this experience – the first of its kind in Africa, the visitors not only got to visit the buildings and learn about their architecture, they were also encouraged to appreciate the social, economic and political impact of these buildings.
Initially a UKNG 2015-2016 project, it included themed bus tours to fit with the peculiar mobility in a city such as Lagos. Open House Lagos 2016 was successful, a fact attested to by the astounding work done by the sixty, 18-35 year olds who held the fort and conducted the tours, the positive feedback from the tourists and building owners, the number of buildings that signed on, as well as the collaboration with almost 30 building owners all over Lagos, including the University of Lagos and Legacy1995, a non-profit organisation that focuses on the restoration of colonial and pre-colonial buildings in Nigeria.”
In the words of the Open House Project Manager, “essentially, historic buildings were included in the Open House Lagos tours, as were religious buildings, modern buildings, personal or commercial buildings of architectural interest and buildings that were built with ecology (green buildings) in mind. These tours are grouped into 12 categories, each catering to a concept – for example, the Renaissance Tour, which focuses on historical buildings. With 30 buildings opened to the public as part of the tour in 2016 and 2017, it is no shock to learn that 2018 will witness another edition of Open House Lagos and other Nigerian cities are looking to key in.
However, there is a benchmark of 30 iconic buildings that any city looking to have an Open House event must meet. The Open House Lagos festival has continued to happen outside the season and is going ahead to stand as an independent entity,” Udoma-Ejorh said.
Some of the buildings that have featured in the tours are The Holy Cross Cathedral, Radisson Blu, British Council Office, Alara Store, Nigerian Railway Corporation Compound in Yaba.
Surely with projects such as Open House Lagos, more sustainable cities can be created, if more people are encouraged and given reasons to care about the buildings around them and the ones they live in.
Open House Lagos (OHL) is part of the Open House World Wide brand which started in 2010, and connects a community of over 30 cities, organising annual events with the same model, with an audience of over one million people who participate in Open House events worldwide.
Open House Lagos arts in Nigeria, is focused on creating access to art, new digital work, innovation, art in public spaces and working with young people aimed at building new audiences, creating new collaborations and strengthening relationships between the UK and Nigeria.
The brainchild of the British Council, programmed in association with a host of partners, featured more than 30 projects and more than 340 events in art, fashion, design, theatre, dance, music, literature and film throughout Nigeria and included showcases of Nigerian arts and creative industries in the UK.