Evolving the Criteria for Writing Nigerian Architecture History Using Historiographical Approach

Evolving the Criteria for Writing Nigerian Architecture History Using Historiographical Approach

ABSTRACT

Since independence in 1960, notable works of Nigerian architecture scholars and practitioners have been recorded, but practically little progress has been made in the area of architectural knowledge documentation. Architectural knowledge encompasses a vast array of ideas, which are basically classified into architectural theory, history, criticism, technology, environmental conditions, and these (subcategories) culminate in the material culture of a people. This research focuses on architectural history. In Nigeria, non-scripting of architectural history with required content stems from the paucity of documentation of built environment occurrences. Although there are some works on traditional architecture in the country, all those studied do not possess sufficient historic content (as measured by architectural periods, styles and methodological principles of writing history) that makes a story to be considered a history in architecture.  History of architecture is dominated by works from Western Europe and North America, but there are other notable works from the Asian and African continents. This underlines one need to evolve a global evaluation criteria or template. The present study was to determine a global historic-content or constituents of architectural history, and to use same as a template for appraising works on history of architecture in Nigeria. To identify a tentative template or a set of criteria for historic contents or constituents inherent in writing of architecture history in diverse ideological perspective (both Western and non-Western), test this tentative criteria on the selected works in order to ascertain their verity and consistency, apply the appraised criteria as bases for assessing and evaluating the existing works on architectural history in Nigeria, to highlight the strength or weaknesses of the works of architecture history in Nigeria and evolve a substantive and comprehensive criteria for writing history of Nigerian architecture. This study adopted the descriptive and explanatory design methods. It used historiography and cross-tabular analysis. Through purposive sampling method, 163 works established or well-known were selected, appraised and grouped in four sets described as Rubrics I, II, III and IV. Rubric I included four main works: (a) Yarwood (1987); (b) Cruickshank (1999); (c) Summerson (1991); and (d) Ching, Jarzombek, Prakash, (2011). Rubric II was from Attoe in Snyder J (1979)r. Rubric III included 157 papers from the third European Architectural History Network (EAHN) International Meeting in Turin edited by RossoMichela 2014and Rubric IV – African Traditional Architecture – An Historical and Geographical Perspective. A case study on the works were done, and through snow ball method, a tentative template for historic contents or constituents was identified. Eight Nigerian works on history of architecture that were subjected to historiographical study based on the appraised criteria were:  (a) Awotona (1986); (b) Dmochowski (1990); (c) Chukwuali (1992); (d) Saad and Ogunsusi (1996); (e) Umar (2008); (f) Edem (2010); (g) Okonkwo et al (2012); and (h) Ahianba (2013).  On using the appraised criteria as basis for appraising and evaluating the existing works, the strength and weaknesses were ascertained this means that they were common in all the Rubrics examined. These works did not have adequate historical contents, methodological principles and style focus as mentioned above to constitute history of architecture. This comparison was done using cross-tabular analysis in order to arrive at the substantive criteria. The result was evolving of substantive criteria with 24 constituents which now serve as scaling template for assessing the extent of historic content in works dealing with architecture history; in which those scoring between 0-30% are considered inadequate in content, 31-60% (adequate) and 61-above (excellent). From the foregoing, the substantive and comprehensive criteria for writing Architecture history in Nigeria should contain/encompass up to 31-60% of a minimum of the 24 criteria.