Desperate to create new design concepts that will push the boundaries of modern day construction process, the Nigerian architects are delving into a new initiative that is expected to create new industrial park in the West African region and synergy in the profession.

The new initiative known as the West African Architecture Festival (WAAF) is the brainchild of the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) and its Rivers State chapter, in partnership with the Rivers State government. It seeks to celebrate the achievement of West African architects; it’s architecture and relationship with the allied professionals.

WAAF will also showcase architecture’s influence in the lifestyle; outlook and culture of the people in the Sub-Saharan region and its global impact. “This is a gathering of professionals – with a focus to pioneer and drive change by harnessing our ability to innovate- an assemblage of problem solvers seeking to expand the boundaries of professionalism in the region,” according to NIA President, Tonye Braide.

Speaking at a press conference in Lagos, he explained that the platform is where emerging professionals network with proven industry giants will proffer solutions to the prevailing issues in the society as it relates to architecture and urban space.

His words: “ The practice of architecture over the years in West Africa is not without its challenges, architects have had to address political, economic an cultural challenges whilst attempting to keep pace with the rest of the world. There are constantly evolving technology, strategy and methods out there and we are required as a profession to address the demands of the public at large such as building performance, energy consumption, incorporating recycled materials.”

He also noted that the event seeks to develop a West African theme to modern design and re-invigorate architectural style and design in the light of the challenging economic situation in most West African countries. “This will be the genesis of a renaissance, which will sweep through the architecture into lifestyle and maintain minimum values till economic recovery is achieved at the turn of the decade,” he stated.

Braide said that WAAF will be a forum for the launching of the West Africa arm of the African Union of Architects (AUA); build bridges connecting future architects and individuals with relevant skills in the industry and showcase product innovations as well as creativity from the region.

He said that with the WAAF platform, various national institutes of architects within the region will complement each other in both expertise and geographical coverage. “By synergizing, knowledge sharing and partnering, the associated members will provide the highest level of professional service to the region and world at large,” he added.

NIA president disclosed that the festival would provide 10,000 square metres of exhibition space and accommodation for 200 exhibitors; about 250,000 visitors are expected to visit the exhibition. There will also be over 20 top class architects from across Africa and the world, delivering lectures on the modern trends in design.

“Added to this will be a crack team of distinguished professionals drawn from across the world who will steer discussions and proffer solutions to the current economic challenges facing the construction industry in Africa due to falling commodity prices.

“WAAF will be a platform to present the building and construction portfolio to member countries to an international audience. This will attract investments to the member countries and create greater cohesiveness with the region,” Braide said.

The Chairman of the River State chapter, Mr. Emmanuel Dike said the theme of the event- Harnessing the great African Potential in Global Value Chain, reflects the growing recognition of the power, influence and importance of architecture in West Africa and the vital role a synergy between professionals will play in re-evaluating and repositioning the profession for greater efficiency in the region.