MacGregor House Apapa
Architect: John Seyton MacGregor
Year Completed: 1973
The MacGregor House in Apapa was designed circa 1971 by the late architect, ‘JSK’ MacGregor for his family and represents the high point of indigenous Nigerian Tropical-Modernism. A masterstroke and work of genius.
Tropical Modernism was largely influenced by, and fashioned after a later strand of Modernism termed Mid-Century (middle of 20C). The influence of foreign architects such as Max Fry and his wife Jane Drew is important. They were themselves influenced by the later-work of architects like Marcel Breuer, Richard Neutra and Le Corbusier, and even the naturalised Australian Harry Seidler.
MacGregor House is located on a bend, revealing itself as a carefully choreographed assemblage of forms and cantilevers, of juxtaposed material finishes and somewhat exuberant but controlled colour scheme. Of dark and light with deep shaded areas. It is not white Modernism. It is visually rich, inside and outside.
The exterior is treated like a series of episodes, continually surprising as it exhibits one delight after the other. The interior, with split levels and fastidious detail is generous with timber panels. The main stairs are kept off the side walls, balustrades rich in simplicity.
The exterior helical stairway is a visual feast, occupying a corner of the building that the architect has scooped out like a spoon dug into ice-cream. This ‘scoop’ is a manifestation of a ‘diagonal force’ that the architect has employed to organise his design; and it works very well. What is surprising though is why the main living room is not glazed in such a way as to allow a vast corner view of the side garden and helical stairs, an expected consequence of the diagonal planning.
The house is a dream for architects and interior designers who desire case studies. It is an important work that occupies and represents the best of an era.