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Contemporary Architecture: Reaching Into The Past To Refine The Present

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While contemporary buildings may cut across the above markers, it can simply be achieved by modifying the design of past buildings  to meet present needs. In a nutshell, a contemporary building is an improvement over preexisting buildings, one of which is the traditional building.

So despite the differences between contemporary buildings and their traditional counterparts, a contemporary building may share similar design and construction methodology with a traditional one.  

More so, many observable features of traditional buildings can be coopted into new designs while still maintaining the buildings’ contemporaneity.

The courtyard, a prominent feature of traditional buildings in Nigeria for instance can add functional and aesthetics touch to a contemporary building.

As a circulation space, the courtyard allows inflow of cool air and natural light into the interior spaces and also facilitate easy movement within the building. It can also serve as a platform for rendezvous and other sociocultural activities.

Aside that, the courtyard can be remodeled to house indoor garden, swimming pool, arbors and other installations. The Pavilion Tere project by Guillaume Koffi and Issa Diabetes in Assine-mafia, Cote d’Ivoire illustrates how courtyard can be designed to fit in a contemporary setting.

Here, the traditional courtyard was enlivened with indoor garden, pool and other modern features to give the building a contemporary look.

Wall vents, another feature of traditional buildings can be incorporated into contemporary design. Often placed on the upper part of the wall, the vent allows hot air that rises within the enclosed spaces to escape, thus, regulating the thermal condition of the building.

This is quite important for buildings in northern parts of Nigeria where stack effect is common due to the prevalent hot climate.

As shown by the Muyinga Library project in Muyinga, Burundi, wall vents can also be redesigned to allow natural light into interior spaces and accentuate both the tactile or optical textures of the walls.

In addition to the highlighted features, one can explore other common features of traditional buildings such as open kitchen, exposed roof trusses, garden shed etc and integrate them into contemporary designs.

Aside the functions these features offer, they can also enhance the aesthetic quality of contemporary buildings.

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