It is utterly disgusting the incredible manner in which abandoned government’s estates littered Nigerian cities. These houses can be retrofitted and re-allocated to civil servants struggling to settle housing expenses annually. Before I go further, let us have a recap on the lacuna in housing sector globally. The eleventh goal of SDGs is ‘sustainable cities and communities’ which is very crucial looking at the housing challenge facing the world today. According to some findings, around 20% of the world’s population lack access to adequate housing. In order to meet up this deficit, about eleven (11) trillion dollars is required. With growing global population vis-à-vis the scarce resources and the effect of climate change, innovative ways should be optimized to have everyone housed.
The world, especially Africa where people are not very mindful of their consumption style needs to mimic sustainable design solutions practiced in places like Tokyo, arguably the most populated city on earth where necessity mandates people to ‘build less’. There is no doubt that massive unguided resource use is freighted with consequences. The correlation between ‘building less’ and resource conservation is huge because when you ‘build less’, the quantity of the building material constituents is reduced, waste is controlled, and water and energy are conserved among several other benefits.
Simple and affordable building approaches such as having collapsible furniture in a small space such that a bed can metamorphose to wardrobe or couch at will, should be encouraged. This ensures living big in a small house without sacrificing luxury. Another important approach is having ‘shift in planes’ where one plane can serve two or three purposes. In a related development, adhocism plays a vital role in sustainable housing through creative manipulation of limited resources for the resolution of present needs. This method is best illustrated in Gando, a small village in Burkina Faso by the legendary Architect Francis Kere. Adaptive reuse is also an excellent method to deal with housing shortages especially in Africa; this approach breathes new life into disused structures. Jaegersborg Water Tower in Copenhagen, Denmark is one of the perfect examples where abandoned water tower was converted into mixed-use building in which students are now housed.
These alongside several other interventions can reduce the combined impact of architectural influence on the global ecosystem and help people save a great percentage of high cost spent in building massive housing. Everyone should be sensitized to reduce their carbon footprint now more than ever before because in resource conservation, everyone is a stakeholder; and it is often said that all stakeholders are important.