Growing up as a tiny little kid in the tough and sometimes unforgiving boarding house surroundings of King’s College Lagos in Victoria Island, I was always fascinated by the many shiny buildings within which our college was engulfed in. None moreso than the shiny, fully glass clad Churchgate Towers directly overlooking our Senior Hostel Block. I remember how the building name lights would beam out through the night sky and cascade from blue to white to red and how the automatic doors would open up as visitors approached. This was the late 1990’s and without a doubt this was the “IT” commercial building in Victoria Island and more than likely the whole of Lagos. (Forgive me; I may be too young to know)
Churchgate Towers in Victoria Island, Lagos
Fast forward a decade and a half and Ikoyi/Victoria Island is brimming with a much larger and constantly growing number of high rise commercial buildings. These are not just shinier, glassier buildings than the Churchgate Towers which left me in awe as a kid, but smarter, more efficient and even greener buildings. Office buildings such as the Wings on Ozumba Mbadiwe Road, the Heritage Place on Kingsway Road and the Nestoil Tower on Akin Adesola Street to mention a few, are all testament to the great strides in design, construction and engineering that the Lagos commercial landscape has made in the last decade or so.
The Wings – Ozumba Mbadiwe Road, Victoria Island, Lagos
Heritage Place – Alfred Rewane Road, Ikoyi, Lagos
Whilst these buildings still have a long way to go to be compared to global leading green buildings such as the Edge in Amsterdam, One Angel Square in Manchester, The Crystal in London and One Bryant Park in New York, it certainly looks like Lagos is well on the right track in this regard.
One Angel Square in Manchester
The Edge, Amsterdam
But does a building have to be new to be at the forefront of advancement and recognition, or is it possible for one to stand the test of time and still remain on the cutting edge of technology, efficiency and advancement despite its age? I believe both are achievable. To make the argument for the latter, let us consider the CIS Tower in Manchester which was built in 1962 and had to undergo an over $8.5 Million retrofit to bring it up to the 21st century. It is now considered one of the most sustainable buildings in the world.
CIS Tower, Manchester
Can such refurbishments be made in Nigeria? In spite of our historically poor building maintenance culture, I believe that times are changing and investors are beginning to look at more innovative and sustainable building solutions. This is perhaps thanks to the economic downturn that has gripped Nigeria and is forcing investors to be more innovative in retaining existing clients and attracting new ones.
Gone are the old days where landlords were mostly unsophisticated and adopted a take it or leave it approach with tenants. Now with the new class of landlords, tenants can expect to receive greater flexibility in leasing terms and better maintained buildings with more efficient maintenance culture within the buildings.
I think it is safe to say that the Churchgate building will more than likely have to make such adjustments in order to keep up with the ever changing times we are currently experiencing.
In terms of what the future holds; can we expect that further developments in Lagos and Nigeria as a whole will aspire to push the envelopes of GREEN/BREEAM certification and recognition? Or will this market continue to play catch up to more developed ones? We certainly hope for the former and not the latter, but whatever the case is, change seems to be the only constant thing in the Lagos commercial skyline.