Co-sponsored by the Central New York Humanities Corridor Urban Humanities working group, the Department of African American Studies, and the Department of Art and Music Histories.
Assistant Professor of modern and contemporary architecture & urbanism, Vassar College
Architecture, Daemons and Regionalism in Southwest Nigeria (1970s to the Present)
The history of architectural education in Nigeria in a “professional sense” is relatively young - if one narrows the definition of “architectural education” to the sort of training that leads to a bachelor’s degree in architecture. The School of Architecture within the Ahmadu Bello University in Northern Nigeria started in the 1960s. A commitment to create a regional architecture became its focus from the outset. This desire continues to the present-day throughout the country; in 2020, the School of Architecture at the University of Lagos inaugurated a conference that focused on the role of ornament in creating contemporary Southwest Nigerian architecture. Outside the academy, Susanne Wenger, a long-time Austrian resident of Nigeria created her vision of regional architecture in the Southwestern part of the country. Hers was a product of her status as a priestess of two deities known in the region, tapping into the “non-professional” architectural traditions and religious practices that had existed for centuries.
This lecture will contrast the academic approach to regional architectural design in the country with how her knowledge of daemons and rituals informed her design. Ultimately I hope to explore how knowledge that can be culled from local rituals and religious corpuses – perhaps not valued as highly because of the secular nature of contemporary architectural practice - can enrich a quest for a regional architecture.