Architect: Allies & Morrison
Year Completed: 2005
The British Council, an organization promoting educational and cultural relations, decided to relocate its activities in Lagos to a site in the residential area of Ikoyi. This was an exclusive European area during the British colonial period, featuring leafy trees and lush lawns set around large detached buildings. High walls surrounded the area.
The British Council wanted a sense of openness to be conveyed by its new headquarters. Architecture firm Allies and Morrison responded by replacing a wall with a series of closely located vertical posts that delineate the extent of the site but allow visual dialogue with the city. A simple front garden and gatehouse precede the building. The dominant entrance facade is a solar screen composed of large vertical timber pieces.
Inside, the material palette becomes more robust, with a public foyer revealing board-shuttered concrete juxtaposed with timber. Openness is achieved as the functional volumes within are seamlessly fused with circulation, ensuring a visual continuity from the street right through to the rear of the building.
The British Council’s building, which was completed in 2005, challenges the urban context that it resides in, daring to open itself to the public. (Giles Omezi)