The traditional architecture of the Igbo of Nigeria
Modern architecture in Nigeria presents a bizarre picture of indiscriminate transplantation of foreign buildings, and a complete abandonment of traditional architecture. Apparently, the transplanted architecture does not respond to the physical and cultural needs of Nigerians, and, at all events, the peoples' attitude to it portrays ignorance, confusion and resignation. This thesis argues that rather than this wholesale transplantation, Nigeria's traditional architecture should be studied to rediscover those principles that are vital for the development of a satisfactory modern architecture. The thesis is confined to Igboland, and traditional Igbo architecture is studied in the context of the physical and cultural environments under which it evolved and developed. The study reveals that traditional Igbo architecture is a product of physical and cultural factors, some of which are peculiar to Igboland and society. These factors create architectural problems and also provide some means of solving them. The physical environment, for instance, causes the problem of rain, heat and humidity, but provides mud, timber, bamboo and palms for house building. Similarly the Igbo world-view imposes a philosophy which constrains ordering in the physical world to mirror a conceptual ideal one. Again, this provides a theoretical principle by which the Igbo order architectural elements in the physical setting. The traditional architecture, therefore, directly relates to their environment and long-established customs and way of life. Colonization and the ensuing transplantation of foreign architecture have, however, undermined it and created problems. These problems are highlighted here, but with the recognition that erasure of the transplanted buildings is no solution. It is further established that traditional architecture is not anachronistic, but possesses valid ordering and design principles, technical solutions and upgradable materials. A compromise is therefore sought whereby these can be exploited to cross-fertilise current practice to achieve a satisfactory modern architecture in Igboland and Nigeria.