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Title: The architecture of the Public Works Department (PWD) in Nigeria during the early to mid twentieth century
Author: Salami, Ibiyemi Omotayo
ISNI:       0000 0004 6058 6277
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2016
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My research explores the early to mid-twentieth century architecture of the Public Works Department (PWD) in Nigeria. It does this by examining official colonial records, PWD surviving buildings and architecture professional records. By adopting these three strands of investigation, the research aims to better understand the department’s building operations, building types and designs, and the composition of its architectural personnel. More importantly, the research aims to demonstrate that a study of Nigeria PWD architecture significantly contributes to wider debates on tropical imperial architecture and Nigeria’s colonial architecture. There has been a host of previous literature on empire and its influences on architecture in the tropics, with a number of these studies examining the PWD in some former imperial environments. However, Nigeria’s imperial architecture literature is mostly limited to the country’s late colonial tropical modernist works, while the PWD remains largely un-researched. The only previous work found on Nigeria PWD architecture, is Davidson’s 1957 The architectural works of the ministry of works, Western Region, Nigeria. This focuses on drawing approvals, the architectural staff strength, and the building output and climatic design factors employed. But this is all presented in a two page article that provides very limited insights. Are the issues raised in Davidson’s study all there is to PWD architecture in Nigeria? Other emerging questions will be - what comprehensive building operations did the department undertake? What were the building types constructed, and was climate the only design consideration? Who were the architects, why had they worked there at the time, and what was the relation to Nigeria’s early architectural profession? To answer these questions and obtain the insights needed to build on Davidson’s 1957 study, the research methods employed are - archival investigations, to source official colonial records; fieldwork, to track down surviving PWD buildings; and unstructured interview so as to obtain a veteran’s account of working in the department. The data obtained is analysed in the three sections of PWD building operations, PWD building output and PWD architectural personnel. The main findings which emerge therefore are that, (a) although PWD building operations were being implemented at all levels by colonial officials, the native administration level imbibed significant native operational inputs; (b) Although PWD buildings were mainly initiated to serve colonial administrative purposes, the designs largely portrayed architecture as a vital tool for improved tropical health; and (c) although PWD architects were perceived as agents of a grand imperial building scheme, in reality they had functioned more as professionals taking up practice opportunities. On the whole, the mainstream arguments have mainly stressed the PWD’s role in imperial building agenda. However, the findings of the research indicate and also further the argument that within this wider agenda, the PWD also operated in what may be termed as localized agendas. While this better addressed the practical realities of working, building and living in the colonies, it also aimed to limit certain colonizer-colonized barriers.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: NA Architecture