Sitting on six-hour train travel from Voss to Oslo all within Norway in Europe gave me ample time to reminisce on home (Nigeria). Trying to find answers to some salient questions on the complaint about the weather temperature versus the various types of building structure and patterns obtainable. Most of our conventional building structures in Nigeria do not consider the use of big ventilation? My question is why not? Can’t we use big windows for more ventilation? Can we achieve more airflow while still ensuring security in the use of big windows for ventilation? Can we explore other types of windows for more ventilation? Why do we use small windows in city buildings generally, especially in dense population areas in the cities?
I’m a Nigerian by birth and live in Lagos Nigeria, Yaba axis to be precise where the pyramid of scholars exists, it is surrounded by 3 major tertiary institutions which are Unilag, Yaba Tech and the college of science and technology. By the virtue of my work, I have been privileged to travel to many places around the world that I have lost count and I can only count places I’ve not been to around the world.
I take an example of buildings in Norway and most parts of Europe, the use of small and medium-sized casement windows for ventilation is quite common. The sizes of the windows range from (900mm x 1200mm) to (1500mm x 1200mm) in most residential buildings. This could be affiliated with the climatic and weather conditions of this region. Bearing in mind the four seasons they experience in the year. The Autumn, Winter and Spring have gradients in similarities. These 3 seasons dominate the bigger side of the year calendar with an average of 8 months in a year, leaving the last season which is summer an average of 4 months to complete the calendar year.
However, the Nigerian scenario is different. I have observed that in Lagos and most parts of Nigeria, the use of medium-sized sliding windows for ventilation or small size aluminium casement windows is quite common. Also, let us bear in mind the 2 major seasons we experience in the year (Dry season and Rainy season). With the Dry Season and harmattan having gradients in similarities. This dry season occupies an average of 7 months in a year, leaving the last season which is the rainy season to an average of 5 months to complete the calendar year.
Driving around high-density residential areas in Lagos state, you will realize that you can hardly find, wide span windows of (2100 x 1200)mm yet when you visit any of the residents you hear a lot complain of the ventilation making them embrace alternative means of ventilation e.g. Air conditioners, Fans or Heat extractor. In this area, you will agree with me that inhabitants in this type of building are prone to heat rash and other health issues due to congestion and improper ventilation structure.
In acknowledging the importance of security in the consideration of wider windows for proper ventilation, especially with the high rates of kidnapping and insecurity, I would nonetheless, encourage the natural climate by using wider windows as a means of ventilation as against mechanized ventilation such as air-conditioning.
I believe both can be achieved as adequate airflow is an essential part of a residential design whilst doing it at the background of security importance as well. Let us see this as food for thought in remodelling our Nigerian Architecture on the residential buildings.
Till I come your way next time, I remain my humble self.