Building Performances and failures- the Nigerian angle

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children – anonymous

People of every era are basically assessed from two major stand points: the tangible elements and the intangible elements. The tangible element is the manifestation of human enterprise in forms such as building, sculptures, paintings and other physical creations. The intangible element manifests itself in the form of local life patterns of people, culture and tradition. This piece seeks to x-ray the performance of building as the major source of shelter; its failure and how it affects the Nigeria people.

The styles of building construction are constantly changing with introduction of new materials and techniques of construction and Nigeria is not an exception to this. We all know that the work involved in the design and construction stages of buildings are largely that of selecting materials, components and structures that will meet the expected standards, aesthetic approval and functional satisfactions of end users, is it therefore safe to say the construction industry in Nigeria hasn’t perform optimally?


A cross section of buildings in Mushin, Lagos

The last decade in Nigeria has witnessed a lot of building failure which often result to the loss of lives and properties. Building failures have been attributed to the following causes: design faults (50%), fault on construction site (40%) and building materials and component failure (10%) (oyewande 1992). Stakeholder, most of the time simply passes on the bulk. The institute responsible for the regulation of training and practice of architecture, building and structural engineering bares the largest proportion of the blame. These bodies simply blame the government, economic situation of the country and activities of the quacks.

However, it is important that the issue of building design, performances and it failure be taking seriously.


A building at the brink of collapse in Surulere, Lagos

The following measures are essential for the evaluation of building performance towards safeguarding against building failure.

  1. It is important to retain the professionals after the design stages, to ensure strict supervision of projects to conform to approved design.
  2. Initiating a building appraisal system is important for big projects. From time to time, there should be an assessment of the building to check if it meets the requirement for which it has been built for as it affect safety, comfortability and the absence of health hazards to the inhabitant.
  3. The monitoring activities of inhabitant should also be considered to ensure the building is not subjected to frequent repairs. Sustainability of projects must be ensured for it to continue to meet the need of the present without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their needs.
  4. Creating a design-build-functional life circle for the building and a facility emergency preparedness.


A commercial building on broad street in Lagos

The new decade however poses enormous and formidable challenges towards ensuring a sustainable development in the country. The foremost challenge of the next decade, especially for architects, engineers, builders and developers will be to make a crucial transition from the present desire to push profit margin beyond imagination on projects, to using the right method and methodologies towards ensuring safe and functional projects.


A building in frantic need of restoration (Surulere, Lagos)

As people, we must be committed towards designing and actualizing buildings that reflect respect for our locality, the climate and lifestyle of the Nigerian people and more importantly a better environment.

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