Comparism of size and population of The Netherlands with Lagos, ©NLÉ

Bernd Upmeyer spoke on behalf of MONU with the Nigerian-born and Amsterdam-based architect and urbanist Kunle Adeyemi. He was born and raised in Kaduna, in the north of Nigeria, and studied and started his early career in Lagos. In 2005, he received a Post-Professional degree at Princeton University, where he investigated – together with Peter Eisenman – the rapid urbanization and the role of market economies in developing cities of the Global South, focusing on Lagos. Before starting his own office in the Netherlands, he worked for nearly a decade at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), where he led projects such as the “The 4th Mainland Bridge” and Master Plan in Lagos.

Kaduna, Lagos and Abuja

Bernd Upmeyer: You were born in the Nigerian city of Kaduna. What kind of city is that?
Kunle Adeyemi: I grew up there and lived the first ten years of my life in Kaduna and moved to Lagos later. It’s a city in the northern part of Nigeria. It is quiet, at the same time politically volatile. It is not the biggest northern city – Kano is the biggest– but it is one of the most densely populated cities in Nigeria. Kaduna is an industrial town with a large petroleum refinery, factories and a long river. The name Kaduna actually comes from the word “kada”, which means crocodile in the native Hausa language.

BU: In your early career you worked on projects in the city of Abuja, another Nigerian city. What was your relation with Abuja and what kind of city is Abuja in comparison with Kaduna or, for example, Lagos?
KA: My relation to the city of Abuja is mainly based on research and visits. I spent three years in a neighboring city called Suleja, during my time in high school. In addition, the first two years of my career I worked from Lagos on projects in Abuja. While Lagos is Nigeria’s commercial centre, Abuja is its administrational and political capital. Therefore, there is always a lot of movement between Lagos and Abuja.

BU: How would you say these three cities, Abuja, Kaduna and Lagos changed over the last thirty years?
KA: Well, first of all, Kaduna was established by the British colonialists, while Abuja was established only in the 1970s in an effort to ‘decongest’ Lagos. Abuja is only about forty years old and has changed significantly in terms of infrastructure and physical development. Today, Abuja is a thriving city. Lagos, of course, has grown significantly due to its population increase – its population explosion – especially in the last ten years. Lagos has also changed through improvements in infrastructure and social conditions…

…the complete interview was published in MONU #17 on the topic of Next Urbanism on October 16, 2012.

Title: Lagos: World’s Next Model City
Project: Interview with Kunlé Adeyemi
Date: October 2012
Type: Commissioned interview
Topic: Next Urbanism
Organizer: MONU
Status: Published
Publications: MONU #17, P.113-120
Interviewer: Bernd Upmeyer