OAU Senate Building

15 Mar

Obafemi Awolowo University Senate building (the ‘Ori Olokun’ building as I would rather call it), was designed in celebration of the university’s 50th anniversary. The building was designed to reflect the rich traditional heritage of the Ife people.

View of the OAU senate building designed by AD consulting limited

Obafemi Awolowo University is situated in Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria. Ile-Ife, popularly known as Ife is the traditional cradle of the Yoruba race, a home to ancient and naturalistic bronze, stone and terracotta sculptures that can strongly influence contemporary Nigerian Architecture. Inspiration for the design of the university’s senate building was drawn from the Ife bronze head known as the “Ori Olokun”, a symbol that was believed to represent a king in Ile-Ife.  This building is a contemporary interpretation of this ancient cultural symbol.





Side view of the OAU senate building designed by AD consulting limited

In the spirit of the jubilee, the old dispensation gives rise to a new era leading to a new interpretation of its ancient heritage. The glass veil at the entrance portrays the veil of the beaded crown of a Yoruba King. The roof and its form is redolent of the Ori Olokun’s crown.






Front view of the OAU senate building designed by AD consulting limited

The skillful blend of glass and steel materials in buildings is the language of contemporary architecture. The building is suffused with natural day light. This approach was steered by the idea of light being a symbol of knowledge and learning. In view of that the building by design was flooded with natural light as a symbol of what represents the flagship building of a center for knowledge and learning.








Interior view showing the atrium in the OAU senate building designed by AD consulting limited

The edifice is a low energy and low maintenance building because of its primary dependence on natural lighting and ventilation to light and cool and building. The courtyards are environmentally efficient features borrowed from Yoruba traditional architecture, apt for a building situated in Ile-Ife. The warm air inside the building which is less dense than cooler air outside, rises and exits from the lower roof openings, and the cooler denser air enters through the windows in a process known as stack effect.

The Ori Olokun building is a rich example of inno-native (an indigenous approach to innovative solutions) architecture. It combines western approaches with the Nigerian culture to create an architecture that is a contextual response to the Nigerian environment. This building is an indication of the opportunities that lie untapped in the African culture in creating contextual architectural solutions for a sustainable future.


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