By James Michael Igiri
Professor of Architecture, Michael Adebamowo has theorized that creating a sustainable built environment requires that Architects have a good understanding of nature and look up to it for inspiration in order to understand the philosophy and principles that make those solutions from nature work effectively.
He stated this in an inaugural lecture delivered at the University of Lagos J.F Ade-Ajayi Auditorium on Wednesday 10th May 2017.
Prof. Adebamowo, in the Lecture titled: Sustainable Architecture- A return to nature through Biomimicry; explained that the current state of global development can be seen from an architectural perspective in terms of three primary influences including climatic change exacerbated by human activities (hot), reduction of geographical and social stratification due to ubiquitous and cheap telecommunication (flat), and having a growing global population that is increasingly concentrated in large urban centres (crowded).
He said: “I am convinced that these three characteristics would provide the basis for a new thinking that is capable of reshaping the Nigerian built environment through a design entrenched in architectural sustainability which is a return to nature through biomimicry.”
The astute Professor of Sustainable Architecture- who is the only African on the scientific committee of the Network of Comfort and Energy Use in Building (NCEUB) UK- revealed that current predictions about the exact impacts of climate change vary widely, but there is a general consensus that the world in the next fifteen years will be subjected to more severe weather patterns, rising sea levels, melting ice-caps and glaciers, and changes in precipitation levels in key agricultural area.
He explained that, “these changes will have impacts on food production and security, water resources, production of bio-fuels to replace dwindling fossil fuels, and the vulnerability of human settlements to flooding, droughts and other severe weather patterns.
“Increase in population and continuous urbanisation would create the need for a new kind of development that can accommodate high urban density without compromising quality of life.
“Ubiquitous communication systems will affect transportation requirements and patterns of people as many urban dwellers communicate online through internet, social networks… And this will reduce physical movement and support infrastructures.
In this, there is a compelling need to reshape the Built-Environment in the light of current global challenge. This is necessary to accommodate the rapidly increased needs of a growing population in a climate that continues to change.”
Reflecting on Nigeria, Prof. Adebamowo stated that the environmental challenges bedevilling the nation are of different dimensions and complexities. According to him, the problems are both natural and man-made with an attendant effect on local, regional and global geographical spectrum.
“The Nigerian built environment is highly vulnerable to impacts of climate change; stemming from it’s geographical location in the tropics and being a developing nation with limited capacity to adapt to climate change in terms of awareness level, social and financial resources and technological capabilities.”
He therefore advised that since sustainable architecture is the art and science of designing and creating well-maintained buildings that are energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly, socially-responsive, economically-viable, healthy, comfortable and flexible in use, built environment professionals such as architects as well as urban planners, estate managers, builders, engineers, quantity surveyors and others have a role to play in creating sustainable environment that is not inimical to people’s health and well-being.
“Evidence suggests that climate change is here with us and its effects have been severe consequences on many aspects of human life and activities. Therefore the need for mitigation and adaptation of its impacts on the environment through integrated designs, technological advances, collaborative and multidisciplinary research can not be over emphasised.”
He however cautioned that changes that mimic nature’s beauty and elegance should not just be, on a materials, shape or form basis (biomorphism)”, but that it should be from a thorough understanding of the need to add value to human and plant life while also conserving our environment and thus working to maintain a balance of nature.