Article Title

The Irele


Honorable Mention

Inspired by the art and architecture of the Yoruba and Hamer people.

What inspired you to enter this special competition to create a modern architectural language for Africa?

I have been tremendously overtaken by the desire to explore a modern cultural identity and outlook for contemporary Africa. A visual identity that MUST stem out of the continent‘s deepest philosophy and interpretation of self. So to find the CPDI competition was a perfect platform for me to finally begin to articulate all the ideas I have been brewing for some time. The CPDI‘s ideology perfectly mirrored my most profound thoughts about a modern identity for Africa through Arts and Architecture – hence it will be utterly senseless, to say the least, not to jump at the opportunity to participate.

Why do you believe African home- owners will be interested in building a home such as the one you have submitted today?

Very simply because it embodies the triumph over challenges! It delivers a humble and dignified family unit that exemplifies togetherness. On the functional end, besides the fact that it presents a culturally decorous demeanor, Irele is also designed to be a low maintenance structure with a key sustainability feature which is the roof garden for tending vegetables. This green idea is based on a key African concept of Oko Ile (which is a small farm within a family compound from where simple everyday subsistent agricultural products are tended for family needs. The prototype is inexpensive to build, using very regular materials and it epitomizes our daily essence of – Closeness to nature, closeness to one another and the propagation of a simple but well-meaning life.

What did you find most interesting or challenging during the research and development of your prototype?

To be honest, almost every step was very challenging. The size restriction, cost restriction, the proper articulation of traditional ideals into the ever changing modern demands, etc. The most difficult part for me is how to sufficiently represent the philosophical undertones of two different African tribes (Yoruba & Hamer) into one cohesive aesthetic presentation without going down the path of clichés. Representing a new visual ideology for Africa has gravely suffered this feat of ― direct transfer of form‖ instead of philosophical interpretation of the ideals of that form. This was very challenging indeed. The final actualization of a simple and realistic form well-seated on cultural belief and the order of space was very interesting to me.