Architects Tasked to Consider Health Quality, Human Safety in Designs – THISDAY Newspapers

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Sunday Okobi
As the world celebrates World Architecture Day and the United Nation’s World Habitat Day, the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) has challenged all architects across the world to give high priority to the health quality, safety, and livability of the environment and spaces that they create while designing projects.
The institute urged its members to be more circumspect in placing the health and wellbeing of the people on the front burner of issues in their designs with an emphasis on a preventive approach to healthcare as a means of reducing the curative aspects.
The President, Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Enyi Ben-Eboh, who stated these in a statement made available to THISDAY yesterday, said the theme for this year’s celebration, ‘Design For Health’, was conceived on the heels of the recent global pandemic “that almost brought the world to a standstill and has certainly changed several world systems as well as our response to the use of spaces within the context of these new realities.
“This new theme, therefore, challenges all architects to be more circumspect while designing with respect to the health quality and livability of the environment and spaces that they create in addition to placing health and wellbeing on the front burner of issues in their designs with an emphasis on a preventive approach to healthcare.”
Ben-Eboh, who stated that October 3 annually is celebrated worldwide by the International Union of Architects (UIA) as World Architecture Day which also coincides with the United Nation’s World Habitat Day, noted that as architects, “we are more than ever before conscious of the complex relationship between architecture and the sustainability of the human race, not only in preventing diseases but also in the totality of man’s wellbeing within the context of the environment.
“It is a well-known fact that the construction industry is one of the highest contributors to atmospheric greenhouse gases, accounting for about 38 percent of CO2 emissions. A significant number of diseases and/or health challenges emanate from unhealthy and unhygienic environments and spaces, the bulk of which are products of the works of architects. Not surprisingly most public health emergencies, with a few exceptions, tend to affect poorer, usually unplanned, communities the most.”
According to the statement, “Consequently, we have aligned the theme of this year’s annual conference which will take place in Calabar, Cross River State between November 24 and  27, 2022, to ‘Architecture, A Resource for Health And Wellbeing’, as we invite all stakeholders and friends of architecture to a robust conversation on how to make our living spaces healthier, safer, and more fulfilling.
“Unlike communities that promote good architecture, and where architecture as a profession flourishes, poor unplanned communities are often at the receiving end of both public health emergencies and initiatives.
“That perhaps explains why the UN Sustainable Development Goals, (SDG) defined an urgent need for action in SDG Goal No three. This goal connects well with the architect’s principal objective of creating safe and livable environments. It is, however, unfortunate to observe that in spite of these objectives, the news headlines are still replete with sad stories of building collapse, fire outbreaks, and other unsavoury malaise leading to significant loss of life.”
He assured Nigerians that the Nigerian Institute of Architects would continue to work assiduously with all statutory agencies to help curb the menace of unqualified individuals in the building industry through consistent advocacy on the deployment of best practices in the monitoring and certification of the various stages of the building construction process by the relevant professionals in neighbourhoods and cities as well as the strict enforcement of extant laws and codes.
“We believe that what’s at stake goes beyond mere criminality, and affects the entire economic fabric of our society. It is the responsibility of all well-meaning professionals to work for the economic prosperity of the country. It is, therefore, the desire of all Nigerian architects to promote these initiatives by working with other relevant stakeholders, such as policymakers, construction industry professionals, and health care professionals to advance good health in our communities through quality design,” the NIA boss said in the statement.
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