Reflection of Indigenous Spatial Context in the Design of Centres for Arts and Culture in Nigeria.


Good architecture is experienced when it is tailored to fit the context of root users; however, globalization has posed a great challenge to this cause.

This reflects the cravings for Euro-American space design in buildings such as Centres for Arts and Culture (CAC).

It is in this light that this paper examines the reflections of indigenous spatial context in the design of selected centres for arts and culture in Nigeria.

This was done through purposive selection of cases based on reconnaissance and archival surveys. Visual survey and observation were used to collect data for the study.

The result reveals limited reflection of indigenous spatial context in the design of the selected centres. One of the key challenges uncovered was that some of CACs were not purpose-built, but converted buildings.

Therefore, the design can be said to have been manipulated to do what it was not designed for.

The study recommends recourse to indigenous spatial context as basis for the design of cultural facilities so as to achieve optimum relevance to the locals/users and also contribute to the protection and preservation of the indigenous culture.


Background Of Study

Culture is one of the pillars of sustainable design, along with economy and environment. Cultural sustainability requires the maintenance of cultural diversity, values and practices currently existing in a region and building individual citizenship and complete social integration within a culture (Cunha and Cunha, 2005).

The built environment reflects the lifestyle, social organization, artistic practices, and the architectural adaptation to cultural and religious factors (World Tourism Organization (WTO, 2005).

It is a representation of a society‘s values and aspirations. Architecture, which is part of the built environment, is created for a number of reasons which include: communication of information; establishment of identity; and encoding of value systems (Rapoport, 2005).

Architecture plays a central role in the preservation of culture. According to Smith (2012) buildings are purpose-built based on the people‘s culture, therefore, culture is communicated and reflected through architectural structures and design.

Architectural remains have been used by anthropologists to obtain information about the culture of ancient places. This was done by studying the spaces, forms, sizes, orientation and spatial relationships of the buildings.

Understanding such spaces is only possible through the examination of the context within which they were created and the culture that produced them.

Centres for arts and culture are facilities built with the sole aim of preserving, maintaining and showcasing the indigenous art and culture of a people.

Evans (2001) noted that Centre for Arts and Culture (CAC) is a functional community centre with a specific remit to encourage the practice of arts and culture and to provide.


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Australian Government (2014, June 10). Indigenous art centre           plan.       Retrieved from igenous/indigenous-funding-guidelines.pdf

Brazenor, C., Ogleby, C. & Williamson, I. (1999). The spatial dimension of aboriginal and land tenure. 6th South East Asian Surveyors Congress, Fremantle.

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