Money Has corrupted The Practice of Architecture – David Adjaye

Billion-pound projects are perverting architecture warns David Adjaye, who says architects should be champions for the cities they build projects in.

In a keynote speech at the World Architecture Festival in Amsterdam yesterday, Adjaye said that architecture should be the “arbiter of ideas”, yet many of today’s projects are driven by “elitism that is to do with hyper-commercial liberalism and who controls money”.

“Money has totally corrupted the ability to make a meaningful form,” the architect told the audience.

“It’s all about money now. Architecture in the west is absurdly expensive – projects cost billions and it’s crazy.”

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Architects have a responsibility to cities

Adjaye, who was Knighted for his services to architecture in 2017, argued that architects have a responsibility to make sure their buildings give back to the people that use them, rather than simply fulfil a client’s brief.

“Architecture is able to become a form that is able to push a certain sort of justice into the equation,” he said.

“I think that architects are responsible in the way that they work for a client, but they also work for a city, they’re always indebted to making sure the city is giving the best back to its constituents.”

The Adjaye Associates  founder took the audience through a selection of his own projects, highlighting how each one offers some kind of “free space” –  a nod to the theme of this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale  –  to its place.

One example he gave was his Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC.

Smithsonian Museum conveys political message

He said the building, which cost $250 million (£196 million) to build, is designed to take visitors on an emotional journey that communicates a political message. It does this by taking people down eight levels then back up another eight, to “literally physically bury people into a space with no light and then to lift them up”.

Design elements were also chosen to celebrate the craftsmanship of African people who were enslaved and brought to America.

“We think migrants have no skills but there were these incredible people brought to America who were literally building America with their skills,” said Adjaye.

The museum also features a shaded courtyard by the water, which lowers the temperature outside the building. “The building is the last moment before the mall, so in the hot summer sun it’s a much beloved space,” added the architect.

Aïshti Foundation gave Beirut a new public space

Other examples included the Aishiti Foundation , an art gallery and shopping centre in Beirut enclosed behind a gauze of red aluminium.

Adjaye said he was trying to create a place that could help the city recover from the “incredible trauma fracture” of the Lebanese Civil War with his design. One detail he added was a pool on the building’s rooftop.

“Since the war, the idea of public space has become very contested – there are military everywhere,” he stated.

“This gauze embraces the multi-programme of the space, he added. “You can find a space that can give you reflection, mind, retail, this idea of wellness.”

Small-scale projects “can be an opportunity”

Even small-scale projects can help to  “reset” cities on some level he said, citing the pavilion he created for the Gwangju Biennale in 2013 as an example.

“Any moment can be an opportunity to go beyond the material excellence of construction,” he said.

The project saw the architect team up with author Taiye Selasi to design and build a public reading room where locals could swap books.

The space, which is “obviously WiFi-ed”, is still a permanent place for people to gather and use. “It has taken on its own life,” said Adjaye.

How Innovation In Real Estate Is Encouraging Growth

As the Indian economy evolves, value-creation opportunities in real estate will exist as much in capturing the consumption-growth upside as in pursuing strategies of specialisation. The last decade has seen significant investments in real estate and real estate-related infrastructures -1.93 %, as investors braced for growth and development. The next phase of growth will be driven as much by value-added real estate strategies as by capital market innovation in real estate financing.

Mapping real estate by larger secular trends would give us fascinating insights into the real pockets of demand. Some of the broad secular trends we see are rising income profiles, a gradually larger pool of senior citizens with life expectancy increasing, increased retail consumption (both online and offline) and increasingly high consumption of data, among others. Not only have these trends created the need for specialised real estate, but also the need for greater partnerships between service, providers and real estate investors.
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Real estate strategies will have to go on to add value through a broad array of services through partnerships and astute asset selection. For example, warehouse real estate space has received significant investments over the past few years. The question is: How will the market evolve as demand further picks up?

The key to warehouse businesses is twofold. Firstly, scale up from being purely real estate providers to “solutions providers” Such
Such warehouse businesses should have the capacity and know-how to cater to an increasingly large and fragmented user-base with technology, real estate and supply-chain expertise to help support the business ecosystem. While this trend has started already, the future holds greater promise and investment returns, if done well.

Secondly, for warehouse businesses and platforms, it is essential to keep building on the spoke and hub model. Large-scale warehouses, linked to dispersed smaller catering to increasingly quicker delivery times is how it is going to be in the future.

Another sector where the real estate partner can provide both real estate expertise and relatively inexpensive access to capital to the service provider will be healthcare. Assets such as hospitals and high-end laboratories need access to significant real estate. Usually, either the hospital acquires the real estate or rents it. There is potential going forward for institutional platforms to purchase land to be leased to hospitals. The key to the strategy mentioned above versus piecemeal renting of hospital land is the ability of the platform to source capital at a significantly lower cost versus what the hospital chain can do.

The healthcare real estate focused platform may able to do so for a variety of reasons such as having access to a pool of investors with a lower cost of balance sheets and better credit ratings. Both the factors will provide a lower cost of capital. Additionally, for platform investors, a diversified pool of real estate assets does lower the risk profile through diversification, which in turn reduces the cost of capital for healthcare real estate asset.

Such innovative real estate strategies will be vital to fuel the next phase of growth for real estate-heavy sectors such as healthcare. The ability of healthcare providers to focus on healthcare services and have a less demanding debt-burden will be a significant value creator in the ecosystem. Real estate-focused investors, funds and, eventually, healthcare Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) will provide a liquid capital base with which to scale business.

Ultimately, investor-access to platforms that allow for some degree of secondary market liquidity will further help reduce the cost of capital for businesses. A combination of innovation in real estate and the “capital structure” that drives the real estate will be significant business drivers.

The previous strategy or some modified version of it will apply to many of the new sunrise sectors. A sector such as datacentres is also a component of a differentiated real estate strategy, whereby a combination of technological capacity combined with real estate acumen will drive the data centre real estate play. In an economy such as India with a structural demand, value creation opportunities abound.

A word of caution: A thorough analysis of demand-supply dynamics will be critical for long-term success. Given the very nature of real estate, both macro and local factors have a significant influence on investment returns. Past experience suggests that when local factors are ignored, investment returns can be adversely affected even with positive macro fundamentals.



Trumps tariffs: US infrastructure schemes stagger under rising cost burden

Steeply rising inflation in the construction sector caused by President Donald Trump’s tariffs is hampering America’s ability to renovate its infrastructure, according to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

The paper says this puts two of the Trump administration’s flagship policies – an aggressively mercantile approach to overseas trade, and a desire to invest in domestic infrastructure – in conflict with each other.

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According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the price of diesel was 27% higher than it was on October 2017, asphalt-paving mixtures were up 12%, and steel-mill products rose 18%.

The rise in steel prices was partly due to tariffs of 25% on steel imported from China and other countries, imposed in June. This has lowered competitive pressure on domestic mills, allowing them to raise their prices.

Among the victims of the inflation is the Foothill Gold Line, a 20km light rail extension outside Los Angeles.It will cost an extra $570m than expected, bringing the project’s total cost to $2.1bn and triggering a retendering of the work, the WSJ found.

Elsewhere, in Dover, New Hampshire, the winning bid on a flood-control project came in $1.5m higher than the city’s $3.3m estimate, a hike of just over 45%, which means the city may have to cancel other planned projects. The New Hampshire Department of Transportation said there had been a 30% surge in steel prices since the summer.

In West Virginia, a works programme that included repairing 25 bridges on Interstate 70 came in more than $100m higher than a state estimate. A spokesman told the WSJ that the state plans to put the project out to bid again. And a ferry terminal in Mukilteo, Washington, will be delayed after the lowest bid received was $12m above the state’s $65m budget.

Factors outside Trump’s tariffs are pushing up costs, however. Construction inflation has been exacerbated by the tightening labour market, as well.

Analysis by employers’ body the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) shows that construction added 30,000 jobs in the last two months and 330,000 jobs over the past year, topping 7.3 million for the first time since April 2008. Meanwhile, average pay jumped and unemployment decreased to a historic low.

“Despite the steep gains in employment and pay, a recent survey by the association finds contractors continue to struggle to find qualified workers,” the AGC said.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration had promised to put in place a $1.5 trillion renewal programme but, by March 2018, Congress had allotted just $21bn to it, slightly more than 1% of the total.



UK pumps $72m into digital construction

An alliance of three research groups has received $72m from the UK government to make construction more like manufacturing through the use of high-tech design and building techniques.

BRE, the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), and Cambridge University’s Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) won a competition for the cash, and will use it to promote digital design, advanced manufacturing, robotics, drones and augmented and virtual reality, ministers said.

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They hope the technology will let the sector design and build faster, cheaper and more sustainably.

The groups will work through an initiative called the Core Innovation Hub. Their consortium is called the Transforming Construction Alliance (TCA).

“We have the opportunity to revolutionise construction in the UK and the Core Innovation Hub will help us build smarter, greener and more efficient buildings much faster and cheaper than we do now,” said Business and Industry Minister, Richard Harrington.

One aim is to put sensors and digital systems in buildings and infrastructure so they can “manage and maintain themselves”, the press release said.

It went on: “The UK construction industry is facing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to change and modernise. Through the Industrial Strategy and the Core Innovation Hub the UK will be able to seize this opportunity – enabling us to master precision manufacturing resulting in the delivery of better performing schools, hospitals and homes – to the benefit of businesses, public services and people.”

Neil Rawlinson, the MTC’s strategic development director, said; “There is huge potential for transformation of large parts of the construction sector to a manufacturing industry. The widespread appetite for change throughout the industry and the impact that this change will have on so many aspects of life in the UK make us enormously excited to be delivering this pivotal role.”

Professor Andy Neely, director of the CDBB, said the Core Innovation Hub aimed to “transform the way buildings are designed, manufactured, integrated and connected within the built environment to create smart buildings and infrastructure with high levels of safety and energy efficiency”.


World Bank supports Bauchi’s water rehabilitation scheme with $65m

The world Bank has donated $65 million to support Bauchi State urban water rehabilitation scheme.

The Task Team Leader of the Bank in Nigeria, Dr Jamal Alkairy, disclosed this when he led stakeholders in the water sector on a courtesy call to the state’s Deputy Governor, Mr. Audu Katagum, in Bauchi, the state capital, on Tuesday, December 4, 2018.

Jamal said the project was for the rehabilitation and expansion of water supply to the  populace in the state.

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He explained that the gesture was to improve access to potable water supply, hygiene and sanitation.

According to him, under the project, the World Bank would commit 90 per cent of the amount, while the state government would pay the remaining 10 per sent.

“The project when fully implemented would increase quality and quantity of water supply to the people in the state.

Jamal, however, advised the state government to expedite action towards sustaining the implementation of water reform system in the state.

He then called on the government to ensure accountability and increase its financial efficiency of the water sector.

In his remark, the deputy governor said that the state government had reiterated its commitment towards revamping the water sector for human survival.

Katagum assured the team of the state government’s readiness to release its counterpart funding for the successful implementation of the project.

Nigerians tasked to use Green Bonds to bridge infrastructure gap

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Tuesday said the nation’s huge infrastructure gap could be addressed with investments in sustainable finance initiatives such as Green Bonds.

Ms Mary Uduk, the SEC Acting Director-General, stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on the sidelines of the Green Bond issuance rules launch.

Green bonds were created to fund projects that have positive environmental and/or climate benefits.

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Majority of the green bonds issued are green “use of proceeds” or asset-linked bonds. Proceeds from these bonds are earmarked for green projects but are backed by the issuer’s entire balance sheet.

Uduk said there was the urgent need to close the huge infrastructure gap with investments in green bonds.

She said issuance of green bond would provide an avenue to raise capital in the market to finance the country’s infrastructure needs, enhance liquidity and as well help deepen the market.

“Green Bonds is one of such avenues to raise needed capital from investors with a passion for keeping our environment clean and investing the proceeds in environmentally friendly and green infrastructure initiatives,” she said.

On effective utilisation of proceeds, Uduk said the commission had robust monitoring and issue proceeds verification that tracked issuers and proceeds utilisation.

She said the verification process ensured that proceeds from the issue were directed and utilised for the projects they were earmarked for in accordance with the guidelines.

“SEC is engaging with stakeholders and capital market operators on various enlightenment and training programmes on Green Bonds.

“Specifically, since second quarter SEC has collaborated multiple times with the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI) to provide training for regulators, investors, and intermediaries on Green Bonds,” Uduk stated.

She said SEC had rolled out rules on green bonds and conducted enlightenment programmes as part of its efforts to create an enabling environment for issuers and other stakeholders.

According to her, the commisson will continue to encourage companies to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity.

“It is a new area and we will continue to develop capacity in the green bond market both internally at the SEC and the market as a whole.

“We have organised trainings for regulators and continue to work with experts and organisations like CBI to further strengthen capacity in this area,” Uduk said.


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Challenges of regulating tenancy in Nigeria

Rent control is a residual matter under the 1999 constitution. As a result, most of the states in Nigeria have their individual rent control laws. The abuse by landlords in unlawfully evicting their tenants necessitated the Rent Control and Recovery of Residential Premises law, to seek to protect all tenancies to which this law applies. It is worthy of note that the protection afforded tenancies by this law is not intended to deprive a landlord of the fruits of his/her investment in real estate.

Rather the protection only requires that a tenant should only loose his tenancy after due recovery procedure and process are complied with by the landlord.Though rent control law exists, it has largely remained a dormant most tenants are left to suffer in the hands of their landlords who in the absence of any control, exploit the situation with arbitrary increase in the monthly or annual rent on their property.

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Under Section 37 of the Lagos State Tenancy law 2011, a tenant can apply to court for a declaration that the increase in rent is unreasonable and the court has power to determine whether or not the same is reasonable, taking due cognizance of the rent payable in similar apartments in the locality. If the court is satisfied that the increase is unreasonable, it can change it to a specific amount.

Please note that under this law, if an action is pending in court challenging the reasonability of an increase in rent, it is unlawful for the landlord to eject the tenant pending the determination of the action. But how many people will take the time to go to court and test the law? Your guess is as good as mine.

Even though this law exists, it can be likened to a theory on paper because the reality is that the law respects our freedom to enter into contract agreements and will usually not intervene in a bad bargain in favour of the landlord. Who is a landlord? In the feudal system, a lord so called, would own a land and his tenants became his vassals. The feudal lord had dominion over the land and the produce together with the vassals living on that land. The vassals were then required to swear to an oath of allegiance to the lord, as if a monarch. The landlord could eject his tenant as and whenever he wishes, he could change and alter the rent at will; and could impose any terms on the tenant.

The purpose of rent control is to ensure that a city has a certain amount of affordable housing for lower and middle class residents. In fact, the primary advantage of rent control occurs for tenants. Besides paying an affordable rent, they can predict what rent will cost in future and budget accordingly without the fear of a sudden increase that may make living in an apartment unaffordable. The rent control system creates artificial scarcity by encouraging tenants to remain in their apartment it also creates incentive for illegal rental practices such as unauthorized subleases that tenants use to make a profit by renting their apartments to new tenants for more than they already paid the landlord under rent control.

The effort of the National Assembly and State Assemblies to implement the rent control laws has faced criticisms because, the increase in Nigeria’s population in the urban areas has led to increases in the demand for affordable housing, which is far-fetched. Government should intensify efforts at providing affordable accommodation. It is only though this means that government will break the monopoly of landlords.

The rent control laws though good, what about the regulatory aspect of it? When the law clamps down on the landlords, what about the cement dealers, building materials merchants? The reduction of the cost of building materials will ameliorate the problems encountered by landlords, because some landlords take loans from banks. It stands to reason that the multiplier effects are always on the tenants who are the end users of the building.

Source:The Tide News

Importance of Land Surveying

Surveying is the measurement and mapping of our surrounding environment using mathematics, specialized technology and equipment. Surveyors measure just about anything on the land, in the sky or on the ocean bed. They even measure polar ice-caps.

Land surveyors work in the office and in the field. In the field, they use the latest technology such as high order GPS, Robotic Total Stations (Theodolites), and aerial and terrestrial scanners to map an area, making computations and taking photos as evidence. In the office, Surveyors then use sophisticated software, such as Auto-cad to draft plans and map the onsite measurements. Surveyors work on a diverse variety of projects from land subdivision and mining exploration, to tunnel building and major construction, which means no two days are the same. They are experts in determining land size and measurement. They also give advice and provide information to guide the work of engineers, architects and developers.

Importance of Land surveying

Laser scanning is not only used in land surveying but is being adopted in more and more industries, since it gives detailed, accurate data, very quickly, and with fewer manpower requirements, saving companies costs. Surveying is important and most of us depend on it so as to ensure order in the physical world around us.

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Surveyors play an integral role in land development, from the planning and design of land subdivisions through to the final construction of roads, utilities and landscaping. Surveyors are the first people on any construction site, measuring and mapping the land. These primary measurements are then used by architects to understand and make the most of the unique landscape when designing and engineers to plan structures accurately and safely, ensuring buildings not only fit with the landscape but are able to be constructed.

According to Haglöf Sweden AB, It is valuable for everyone to keep track of assets to maintain control and healthy growth. Standardization, calibration and control systems are used in all industries, and when measuring, storing and processing data on-site, error sources are efficiently minimized. Problem areas are detected in time and actions are based on facts and figures.

It is necessary to mark the boundaries on the ground, so that they are clear to observers standing on or near the property. Also surveying and land surveying is intended to provide the evidence needed by the title insurer to delete certain standard exceptions to coverage and thereby provide “extended coverage” against off-record title matters including matters that would be revealed by an accurate survey.

Many properties have considerable problems in regard to improper bounding, miscalculations in past surveys, titles, easements, and wildlife crossings. Also many properties are created from multiple divisions of a larger piece over the course of years, and with every additional division the risk of miscalculation increases. The result can be abutting properties not coinciding with adjacent parcels, resulting in gaps and overlaps.

Many times a surveyor must solve a puzzle using pieces that do not exactly fit together. In these cases, the solution is based upon the surveyor’s research and interpretation, along with established procedures for resolving discrepancies. This essentially is a process of continual error correction and update, where official recordation documents countermand the previous and sometime erroneous survey documents recorded by older monuments and older survey methods.

GPS Surveying

The market for survey grade GNSS as well as for GIS handheld GPS is increasing in Africa. Survey grade GNSS is used by Land surveyors for new township layouts, and by construction
companies for survey control points and for staking out roads etc. It is needed for drone surveys for ground control points, and is increasingly used for precision agriculture.

According to Mr. Dave Beattie of Autobild Africa a distributor of a wide range of trusted surveying equipment from South Africa, some African countries already have CORS systems for getting accurate fixes from what is called NTrip Rovers, using cellphone networks to access the CORS bases via internet. Those that do not have such systems are looking to implement them soon.

“Because GNSS equipment is solid state electronics, and because accuracies of different makes is the same, there is very little to differentiate between makes of GNSS. Ease of Use, flexibility and Support are the most important things to look for. Most makes now offer Windows controllers with universally used software such as Field Genius or Carlson Surv Ce. These programs are well established, used around the world and have built-in co-ordinate systems for all countries. They also work with all makes and models of GNSS as well as total stations,” he says.

“If I were considering purchasing I would be wary of buying a system that uses controllers and software built by the GNSS brand. This is their way of tying in customers for life. To expand ones system to several GNSS units, ones options become severely limited,” he adds.

Mr. Beattie further mentions that, to replace these controllers is very expensive. With Windows controllers and universal software one has unlimited choices and flexibility.  There are universal protocols used by all brands such as RTCM or CMR+. Some manufacturers program their GNSS antennas to communicate in Brand specific protocol. Once again, these brands should be avoided because it limits one to that brand only for future purchases and expanding ones system.

“For example you may have a base and rover set and need to expand by buying another rover. Keep your options open by sticking to windows systems as mentioned above. Then support is the next big issue, and of course price. Prices can vary significantly but, unlike Opto mechanical instruments, GNSS products are all generally robust, lightweight, and give the same accuracies,” he affirms.


FSS 2020 To Establish Smart Green City Project

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other participating agencies in the Financial System Strategy 2020 (FSS-2020) are set to develop a Nigerian smart green city project.

This was disclosed by the project manager and the Director of FSS, Mohammed Suleiman at a strategy session held in Abuja today.He disclosed that the initiative to establish the smart green city is under the mortgage sector of the FSS, in support of sustainable banking principles on climate change, he said

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‘’we need to start thinking about projects that are green and are not against the environment, and one of the way to achieve this is through housing, so we have to come up with housing projects that are green compliant, housing projects that will have no emission, housing projects that are not hazardous to the environment’’.

He added that the concept of green cities is to have a city that is so smart that everything is automated.

Also speaking at the event, the Executive Secretary/CEO of Mortgage Banking Association of Nigeria (MBAN), said the initiative needs the input of mortgage financing to make the project a reality.

He said ‘’ (MBAN) will provide the mortgage financing, which will be an investment into the green city project, as a result we are going to be critical to the success of the green city project in Nigeria’’. On the benefits of the green city project to Nigerians, he said,

‘’We are going to be very empathetic with the environment, in terms of the climate, and in turn it will be empathetic to us, because we are going to have housing units and infrastructure that will be in line with the global standards of green city, and we’ll draw benefits from that because the economy of scale that will follow the execution of projects in the green city will be very significant to us as Nigerians.

The FSS 2020 vision was prompted by the prediction of Goldman Sachs that Nigeria is among 11 emerging countries that have the potential to be among the 20 largest economies by year 2020. The overriding objective was to develop and transform Nigeria’s financial sector into a growth catalyst and engineer Nigeria’s evolution into an international financial centre. In addition to this, FSS 2020 was designed to strengthen and deepen the domestic markets, enhance integration with the external financial markets; and promote sustainable economic development.

Source : Affa Dickson Acho

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