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Wetin Architect Dey do Sef?

by Isiyaku Ahmed
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Ahmed Yahaya-Joe

It all starts with a need, an expectation. Every dream needs a dreamer, who while awake meets that need and articulates that expectation.

Most people have an idea of what they want. They however must engage a dreamer. There are good and bad dreams because when you pay for peanuts you get monkeys!

An architect – client relationship is both transactional and transformational. It is a covenant that starts with a discussion and ends with realization. In between the dreamer must communicate the dream effectively whether it is a new project or remodeling an existing one.

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Do you really need an Architect?

Most people just need an outline of masons to build for them the house they want, anyway they want it, any how. These are the toxic clients that know too much for their own good!

However, the first thing architects do is listen to the ramblings of needs and your expectations. Then ask you questions. An architect will then give you general advice and creates an overall context – for free! That interaction is a crossroads to either engage or not engage the architect further. Any prospective client can always tell a good dreamer from a bad one initially. An architect must develop a brief outlining his duties and responsibilities.

An architect must then be formally engaged to develop design solutions and provide guidance to the planning and realization process. An architect is neither a building contractor nor a site supervisor. That is another schedule of duties that is separate and distinct from an architect’s design obligations to you.

Who is an Architect?

There is first of all a minimum academic qualification at tertiary level from either an accredited university or polytechnic. Then a compulsory professional qualification process through the Nigerian Institution of Architects (NIA) whereby polytechnic graduates must pass through Parts 1 and 2 which their university counterparts are excepted from. All however converge at Part 3 Finals. Architects are mostly engaged by recommendation. Fees are ideally a percentage of project cost but can be negotiated either time-based or an agreed lump sum.

Why do buildings collapse?

All projects must be approved by local planning authorities. An architect’s stamp is a requirement including that of a structural engineer where applicable. The construction process is often flawed before buildings collapse.

There are two fundamental causes; First, no proper and professional oversight. Second, the site is handled by masons and fitters (iron benders) – the Nigerian factor whereby owners want to cut corners and save cost by any means necessary. That is why a Bill of Quantities (BOQ) is very crucial for every project.

The architect-client relationship is a fruitful one when harmonious, and disastrous when based on distrust. Unfortunately, most Nigerians prefer relating with electricians or plumbers than pay for Mechanical and Electrical design and drawings that normally come with architectural working drawings! Then there are glorified “engineers” that are actually political masons.

The attached computer-generated images are just an example of the process an architect goes through in bringing forth the dream of client. Courtesy of a husband-and-wife team, Supercell Architects – Shola and Fatimah Adetiba. Like with other professions collaboration is the spice of architecture. That is why many firms are named “associates” or “partners”

Back to the question; “Wetin Architect dey do sef?” The need for a technical and managerial skillset delivers beautiful dreams.

Compliments of the Season!

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