“Dream big. Set bigger goals. Believe in yourself even when no one believes in you. Go for it, don’t look back.” — Uzoma Aliche
“Architecture and design is the outward reflection of the inner essence of the client” — Uzoma Aliche
“All designs are expressive, even a minimalist design expresses something, for instance, in the use of materials. I have a “less is more” approach to design. A keen choreography of materials, forms, and spatial arrangements harmoniously juxtaposed to create beauty and evoke joyous emotions regardless of the scope. This is what we look to achieve.” — Uzoma Aliche
Uzoma Aliche is a seasoned architect who I became acquainted with in the early summer of 1997 at Abia State University. I remember walking up the rocky slope behind one of the lecture halls at Abia State University close to the school’s main auditorium. I was making my way to the School of Architecture and Environmental Studies when I bumped into him. We introduced ourselves to each other. I let him know who I was and what I was studying, and he also let me know his name plus his nickname, “Babayaro”—as we fondly called him. My mind quickly went to the former Super Eagles player, Celestine Babayaro. We cracked some jokes about the appellation, and the truth is that Mr. Aliche, had some striking resemblance to the soccer icon. By the way, coincidentally, we had come to find out after the exchange of pleasantries that we were in the same studio class in the same course of study—Architecture.
Our years together in our bachelor program was a thrill. Studying Architecture at Abia State University was something. Our first year was many General Studies where we went through courses like Citizenship Education I and II, Philosophy and Logic, Philosophy of Science, Physics, Free Hand Sketching, etc. Our second year, we started immersing ourselves into the rubrics of Architecture. I know Mr. Aliche will remember when we lost our data room to a fire that razed down all the past works of the school. Talk about starting all over from square one. We were going on a journey with no opportunity to make references to the architectural projects of those who had gone before us in the course. At the end of the day, we were able to make it and graduate from our undergraduate program. After this, I left the school for the United States; however, Mr. Aliche continued with his graduate degree program at Abia State University.
Can you see the resemblance with Celestine Babayaro? Source: Vanguard
Uzoma was one of the leading personalities in all the Studio Levels that we worked in. In Uzoma Aliche, you could see Leadership in action. These virtues remain with him till date. He stood out in his abilities and zest for Architecture. His intelligence was a distinguished example for all to see. People naturally gravitated towards him because of his sprite and intentional character. He always had a smile on him, and he still does. He was funny as well and usually cracked us up with jokes as we drew line upon line upon line. Today, Architect Uzoma Aliche has shown his true grit and worth in the field of Architecture, and he is still making himself known to the world through his designs and creative ingenuity. Uzoma Aliche is not just a friend, colleague, or former schoolmate. Mr. Aliche is more of a brother to me, and I am proud to interview him today. So, strap in and get ready for an adventure as we reveal to the world this growing Architectural icon.
Buckle up! The interview you are about to read is a long one, but trust me, it will be entertaining and worth every word by the time you are done reading it. You are about to enter the lair of the Architectural Wonder Dragon! You are about to learn about a budding icon that the world needs to learn more about. First, we will start this interview by learning about who Mr. Aliche is. Second, we will look at his architectural experience. Third, we will gain his view on some of the projects that he has worked on. Fourth, we will look at Mr. Aliche’s design process as he practices architecture. Fifth, we will then see what spawns Mr. Aliche’s creative knack and ingenuity. Sixth, we will then outline his views on Sustainable/Green Design. Seventh, we will answer the question, “How does Mr. Aliche determine his fees? Eight, we will look at his use and views of Technology? Ninth is his views on Social Media. Tenth, are his thoughts on Architectural Education. Eleventh, we will survey his opinions about the future of Architecture; and twelfth, we will see some eclectic reflections from Mr. Aliche.
As we go through this interview, interspersed within this account editorial of this budding architectural icon, will be his different designs and works that he has worked on in the recent and past years from his architectural portfolio. These projects will give us some perspective on some of the projects that he has worked on in time past—that will make for an enjoyable read. Enjoy the ride!
Welcoming Uzoma Aliche—Budding Architectural Icon
Scoopnook (SN): Tell us a little bit about yourself? Who is Arc. Uzoma Aliche?
Uzoma Aliche (UA): My name is Uzoma Aliche, a Nigerian-American. I was born in Lagos, Nigeria to Richmond and Grace Aliche. Concerning my elementary school education and high school, I was public school trained. For my elementary school education, I attended Baruwa Primary School. My high school education was at the Federal Government College (FGC) Kano. I got admission into the Abia State University prestigious School of Architecture (SOA), where I obtained a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree and a Master of Science (M.Sc.) degree in Architecture. To this point, my educational journeys have been a blessing, I have had the opportunity to live in various parts of Nigeria spending a minimum of six years in each location. In 2016, I completed a certificate course in Business and Entrepreneurial Studies at Hunter College in New York, New York. That is me in a nutshell.
SN: Why Architecture? What motivated you to venture into Architecture?
UA: As a child, I was very much interested in the arts. I would sample my artistic skills on an array of surfaces. At FGC Kano, we had an astounding arts studio. We colored a lot—watercolor on paper. As we progressed, the subject Technical Drawing was introduced. This became my new favorite. I coached some of my friends on the topic as we learned it in school in those days. Looking back now, I think the reason why I loved technical drawing was because it gave form to the formlessness. One can see firsthand how some simple tools can be drawn up with some degree of accuracy using nothing but simple lines and drawing tools. At this point, I still had not decided what I was going to study at university.
Technical Drawing gives form to the formless—UA.
SN: Did you love Architecture as a child or as a youth in high school? Do you feel that your adolescent years had some influence on your current professional interests? If yes, how?
UA: I loved the arts, music, and play or theatrical arts. I performed in dramatic arts from elementary school right through my high school or secondary school years. I was the stage manager for my high school drama club. I loved visiting museums. Before I got into university, I got commissioned to do some art projects. My medium was often watercolor on cardboard paper as we call it in Nigeria. Here in the United States, its cardstock paper—you get the drift. I handcrafted a lot and made greeting cards. It was right after high school that the interest in architecture started. My love for attention to details had spiked. I began to develop an enthusiasm for buildings and structures—how they influence and affect our lives, how the perception and orientation of spaces affect us. I started to reflect on the different types of buildings and design styles I had seen throughout my travels. This curiosity and my love for arts drew my attention to architecture.
Zara Court—Aba, Abia State, Nigeria; Source: UABW
SN: What is your design philosophy?
UA: At my practice—Uzoma Aliche Building Workshop (UABW)—we have an “inside–out” approach to design. Every project is, and always is, unique—even if the design briefs are similar or perhaps exactly the same because we believe that architecture and design is the outward reflection of the inner essence of the client. All architectural designs are different, but yet unique to the client. However, for every design we create, it must clear four core beliefs: innovative, bold, imaginative, and lastly it must be unique. With our core guiding principles, we intend to aid our clients in bringing their dreams and vision to reality, while also pushing for something new with every project.
SN: What is the point of difference between your practice and the practice of other architects in your class with similar experience? What makes you uniquely you in the architectural field of play?
UA: This is a tough one. While I may not be able to point out the difference between our practice and others, I will say this—For every project, the client(s) is/are my inspiration. Even after obtaining a clear design brief, we have a set of questions we ask, the purpose of which is to help capture the philosophies of the clients and the ethos of the project. The aim here is to create a mind, if you will, for the design, this is where the concept of the design begins to take form. We see ourselves as the hands of the client, a trained instrument if you will, whose purpose for the project is to translate their ideas into reality. We don’t try to “impose” any ideology on our clients, we help them express themselves through design.
Zara Court—Aba, Abia State, Nigeria; Source: UABW
SN: What is/are your areas of specialty or specialties? Are you into Residential, Commercial, Mixed-Use Architecture, Interiors, etc.? We would like to learn about your areas of expertise?
UA: Our areas of specialization range from High-End Residential to Multi-Family Homes, Restaurants, Hotels, Places of Worship, Public spaces, Store Fronts, Landscape Architecture, and Industrial Designs. We still produce designs outside of the areas mentioned. We have an eclectic approach.
SN: Are you into Tropical Architecture, Temperate Architecture or both? Which do you think is the most challenging?
UA: Our designs are organically developed. We ensure our project recognizes and takes into cognizance the climatic conditions of the proposed location. This helps to minimize any contrary, environmental impact. Regardless of the climatic conditions, proper care is taken, in the ideation stage, to handle that adequately.
SN: Up until now, how many completed projects are in the quiver of your professional portfolio?
UA: Hmmm. (Smiles while trying to give a number) … Well, that’s kind of difficult to remember right now. (Laughs).
Lubrication Blending plant in Festac, Lagos, Nigeria (Day); Source: UABW
SN: What interests you most when you start a project when working with a client?
UA: The thought of starting a new project always excites my team and me. In the ideation stage, after capturing the essence of the project, it is invariably amazing to bring to reality the thoughts of the client to life via our architectural expertise.
SN: What is/are the biggest challenge(s) that you have ever faced with a client’s project?
UA: When clients don’t meet up with their end of the bargain. Sometimes people can be funny at times. There have been countless times we met and discussed with clients and prepared a program for them. We even went as far as presentations, they loved it, all requested adjustments were made. Next thing you know, the “games” begin. They start looking for ways to opt out of the project or one thing or the other. Sometimes in this business, we see clients who behave in some surprising ways.
SN: What is the average period of executing a project? What is the shortest and longest project you have ever done?
UA: Depending on the design brief and the client. A project may take about a week to months to complete. For instance, a franchise restaurant design typically takes us three days to complete. This is because there is a typical process flowchart to follow, the programming process is short. We adjust according to the location, size, and requirements of the zoning codes. For the longest project duration, we recently finished designing a five-bedroom single family home to be in the suburbs of Houston, Texas. That took us two months. To create a final concept that led to the design took us three weeks. About five years ago, we were tapped, alongside two other firms, to submit architectural designs for a three-star hotel to be in Abuja Nigeria. That took us three weeks total to get done. You see, these things vary, and the thing about it is that—it has nothing to do with the scope of work, it has a lot to do with capturing the essence of it and delivering a product that will resonate with the client or clients.
SN: How do you go about collecting your architectural brief from your clients?
UA: Generating a design brief requires meeting with the clients or their representatives. We typically do this at a location the client is most comfortable with. Sometimes a client contacts us with an understanding of what they want to achieve or with a clear goal. However, during the programming phase, the purpose is to find out who they are, and what their values are, and we try to translate and incorporate this in the design. Some clients contact us and say—we have a problem, help us figure this out. So, we help them set a budget, and align this budget with a program.
Lubrication Blending plant in Festac, Lagos, Nigeria (Night); Source: UABW
SN: How do you help your client fully understand the scope and sequence of their project? Do you usually utilize models, drawings, or computer animation?
UA: At the programming stage, we do what is called “problem seeking.” For larger clients, we do a visioning and goal setting workshop. During this process, we first ask some design related questions. We then write down their responses, put them on a board, and do some “dot polling.” By taking these steps, this helps prioritize their needs and helps us determine what is important to them. The process also helps create a set of goals which will be incorporated into the design. Yes, we utilize 3-Dimensional (3D) models fully rendered. Visuals give clarity to the design. The client sees and feels the project—the project is given form.
SN: What is your dream project?
UA: From my university days, I’ve always been interested in Strategic Development Planning (SDP). In my undergraduate and graduate education days, part of our studio design classes was a “documentation process,” where we visit a chosen a rural, semi-urban, and urban area for an SDP study. The process involves surveying the place from an architectural and urban planning perspective. The purpose of the exercise was first to analyze and prepare a set of SDPs that consider the available local resources. Second, we determine the needs and wants of the location. Finally, we use the data to prepare a fifteen to twenty-year developmental plan and proposals through our designs with a focus on improving the status quo. My interest in SDPs started from my first documentation exercise of a rural area in my third year, to the documentation of a semi-urban area in our fourth year, and an urban area for our fifth year—our first year of our M.Sc. program. The SDP design process not only involved coming up with organic solutions unique to the location which could help improve the living standards and conditions of these communities but also put them on a critical path to success. From that moment on, I knew that architecture in a powerful tool for building stronger and a more stable society. What is your dream project? You ask. My dream project or projects are those that transform communities. I have prepared a Strategic Development Proposal for Abia State, Nigeria, but it still sits on my desktop.
Private Residence of the P.U.N. Family, Richmond, TX (Front Elevation); Source: UABW
SN: What steps do you deploy in the design process, and how are they organized?
UA: The first step is to create a program. This goes beyond a design brief. We need to see and feel who they are, and what their values are. Actualizing the design-program may require more than one meeting with the client. These one-on-one meetings help us determine their goals and helps us capture the essence of the design. We record this and play it back in a loop in the design process. The second step is the ideation phase. We take what we learn about the client and create a conceptual design. Diagrams of sorts are developed and tinkered with like a puzzle. Once everything fits, a design proposal is put together, and a presentation is made to the client. At this point, corrections to be made are noted. These noted variations are corrected and then presented again to the client. After all the revisions are made, the next step is to prepare a set of construction documents—complete with details and code analysis. After this process, we then obtain the necessary building permits and hand over to the client.
SN: What criteria do you use to establish priorities and make design decisions?
UA: Our approach is client oriented. We place the client’s wants and needs at the center of the design process. Therefore, the criteria we use is based on the program already created with the client. Our design process ensures that we place the needs of the client high above anything else. With the use of sound design principles, making decisions seems somewhat apparent during the design stage as we see solutions organically unfold.
SN: What do you commonly expect your clients to provide to make your work easier?
UA: Apart from providing all necessary documents upon request to us, we expect that the client to be readily available. Remember that the project is for the client. We render the tools that make the project easier to visualize.
Private Residence of the P.U.N. Family, Richmond, TX (Birds Eye Perspective); Source: UABW
SN: How do your designs affect its construction? Are your designs always disruptive to the construction process?
UA: Design affects the construction depending on the location of the project, and the resources available at that location. There could be some challenges. However, we have both front and backend experience. Meaning that sometimes, depending on the scope of the project, we do retain the services of a construction manager. When at risk, the professional steps in to assist the team (i.e., our staff and the client) to determine, somewhat early in the process what challenges might ensue because of our proposals. As the variations are pointed out, we can then make the necessary adjustments that are needed. This is also an effective way of figuring out the project cost reasonably early in the process and helps avoid unnecessary loopholes that might occur during construction.
SN: What role do you regularly have during the construction process? How close do you usually work with the contractors?
UA: Depending on the client, we sometimes are fully involved in the construction process as the Construction Project Manager. We put together the needed tradesmen and directly supervise the project. Stepping in as the Construction Project Manager helps in several ways. First, the response time to severe situations is faster. Second, it helps us to sharpen our design ideologies as the construction process evolves. Thirdly, this increases our front to back-end understanding of the design-build process.
4 Bedroom Residence at Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria (Front Elevation); Source: UABW
SN: What Inspires your creativity? What inspires you to do your best work? Do you lean to travel, music, reading, etc. to gain inspiration that impacts your creativity?
UA: Music and meditation inspire me—especially meditating in a peaceful and quiet ambiance. I like to close my eyes and feel the design. Via reflection, I love to see and feel the details—colors, lights, shades, forms patterns, and spatial flow. I seek to tap into the universal energy source. This way I keep myself focused on the job and have it done right the first time.
SN: Would you say that your personality infuses into your architectural work? If so, how? Let us into the genius space of your creative mind?
UA: Good work ethics is fundamental. Placing the goals and objectives high—above anything else—is of utmost importance. Paying attention to the non-verbal cues of the client can be very helpful.
SN: Are you highly expressive or more of a minimalist when it comes to your creative design process?
UA: All designs are expressive, even a minimalist design expresses something, for instance, in the use of materials. I have a “less is more” approach to design. A keen choreography of materials, forms, and spatial arrangements harmoniously juxtaposed to create beauty and evoke joyous emotions regardless of the scope. This is what we look to achieve. However, we have recently done some projects that were heavy with ornamentation.
4 Bedroom Residence at Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria (Night Perspective); Source: UABW
SN: : Are their masters down history lane who have impacted your creativity in the way you design? How and why?
UA: I love the works and personality of Mies Ludwig van der Rohe. He started off as a Stone Mason in his father’s workshop, worked as a draftsman in some architecture and design offices, and then became the Director of Bauhaus. He became a leading figure in the post-classical era, a protagonist of the minimalist movement. Never formally trained, he was a natural—a self-made Master of Architecture. Other masters are Le Corbusier, and Walter Gropius (Instigator-in-Chief of the Bauhaus Movement). Mies, however, inspires me. His command in the use of materials—stone, concrete, glass, water, nature, light, and shade—are fascinating. He lets the materials speak for themselves with clarity without competition for attention.
SN: Are there current day architectural masters that have impacted your design creativity? How and why?
UA: Santiago Calatrava. He embodies the definition of a genuine Master Architect. He is a Sculptor, an Architect, and an Engineer. He conceives his designs firstly through the eyes of a Sculptor and then resolves issues of functionality and flow as an architect. Finally, he addresses emerging structural matters as an Engineer. His works challenge me to evoke more emotional feelings on my projects. Good feelings that users can easily resonate with.
SN: What is your favorite or most inspirational place for working on your projects?
UA: The studio. That’s where the magic happens. However, inspiration can come at any time; hence, I like to take a pad and pencil with me almost anywhere I go.
Urban Sculpture, Aba, Abia State, Nigeria; Source: UABW
SN: Do you have experience with “Green” or Sustainable Design?
UA: Yes. We are big on environmentally responsible and resource-efficient designs. As co-creators, it is the responsibility of Architects to protect our “workplace”—The universe.
SN: Do you regularly integrate low or no cost sustainable design strategies into your projects?
UA: Our designs are socio-economic and ecologically sustainable. We always consider, and make provisions, for non-fossil fueled alternative power sources. Most of our designs consider the use of energy saving products and smart gadgets.
SN: Considering the many areas that affect the sustainable design process, how do you determine which options to pursue?
UA: The scope helps us ascertain this. A comprehensive project scope allows us to determine what areas we can effectively use technology wisely.
SN: Do your clients generally welcome sustainable design elements and technologies in their design process? Are they usually liberal when it comes to the cost of these sustainable processes?
UA: Most of our clients are informed and are generally open and accepting of sustainable designs. We take it upon ourselves to educate and explain the benefits of integrating sustainable design with technology, and how it will save our clients on the cost of maintenance in the upcoming future. Although some may resist, we always take it upon ourselves and make provision for them in the design.
Kado Apartment Lodge, Abuja, Nigeria; Source: UABW
SN: How do you establish fees regarding your practice?
UA: Our fees are calculated per square unit—either per square footage or per square meter.
SN: Have you ever encountered a client who was extremely liberal financially towards having features implemented in their design? Tell us the story.
UA: (Laughs). Sure. We did a project six years ago in Nigeria. We specified Togo stone, a type of quartz, for the exterior walls. We had problems with the initial sub-contractors who could not supply the quantity we needed for the project. Mid-way through the project, we noticed that we were going to be short on materials. I had to jump on a plane to Togo. I went to the stone quarry, ordered 2 more truckloads of the quartz, and shuttled back to the site. Two days after, the stone arrived, and work was completed within the week. This was a $1.5 million project. The exterior finish cost about a third of the project.
SN: What is the cheapest project you have ever done?
UA: We do some projects pro-bono.
SN: What is included in your basic services and what services would incur additional fees?
UA: We design. Any additional service outside of the design scope attracts additional fees.
SN: If the scope of the project changes later in the project, will there be additional fees? How will these fees be justified? How will this be communicated to the client?
UA: If the need arises for a change order, or change in scope after necessary approval is obtained, the client would have to make a request in writing. The adjustments would be noted, and the client adequately billed accordingly.
SN: What is your track record towards completing a project within the original budget?
UA: Our records are right on point. However, if there are changes requested by the client, that will, of course, alter the original budget. The cost of which will be adequately communicated.
Proposed Five Bedroom Family Home, Lekki, Lagos State, Nigeria
SN: What is the best technological advancement since hand drafting in the field of Architecture?
UA: Revit Building Information Modelling (BIM).
SN: What is the best Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) Software in the market today? What makes it the best? What are its pros and cons?
UA: There is quite a handful out there these days. There is ArchiCAD by Graphisoft; Revit by Autodesk; and 3D Max by Autodesk. For finishing and rendering we use Photoshop. In most cases we combine them.
SN: What is the worst CAD Software out there in the market today? What makes it the worst? What are its pros and cons?
UA: I don’t believe there is an absolute worst 3D software. I think it’s about which one you are comfortable with.
SN: What CAD Software are you conversant with? Which ones do you prefer using?
UA: AutoCAD by Autodesk.
SN: What software do you use when it comes to 3D Modelling? How proficient are you at it?
UA: Revit by Autodesk. Expert level proficiency.
Social Media—The World at Your Finger Tips
SN: The world of Social Media (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Tweeter, etc.) is influencing a lot of industries and the way the world does business. Has it affected Architecture? If yes, how?
UA: Yes, it definitely has. The Internet has made the world a global village. Through social media marketing, we have picked up a few clients recently. This is the new go-to-place for anything. Therefore, it is imperative to take one’s business to where the market is.
SN: Do you currently have a web or social media presence? If yes, where can we find you?
UA: My professional social media presence is on LinkedIn (i.e., www.uabw.com https://www.linkedin.com/in/uzoma-aliche-3426b6100/). I also have a Facebook Page where I showcase my works to my Social Media Audience (i.e., https://www.facebook.com/uabwllc/).
SN: Do you think that the Social Media world will be relevant to the future of Architecture? If yes, how?
UA: Until something new comes along, I believe the social media is indeed relevant to the future if Architecture. Harnessing this power is the key to unlocking the real potential of social media selling.
The study of Architecture requires True Grit!
SN: What was your educational experience when acquiring your degree in Architecture? Any fond memories?
UA: (Laughs). I have lots of fond memories. First, it felt like we were in some kind of “military-style” training. The curriculum was predictably rigid. We were groomed to be tough as nails. There was no time to cry even when you missed a deadline to submit design assignments or even a “jury date” (i.e., design defense before the professors). When a jury date is set, sleep is limited, personal hygiene flies out of the window—shower times are limited. We were practically working round the clock. All that seemed to matter was to turn in a design that was good, logical, creative, and presentable. If for any reason, your studio head or mentor catches something that isn’t right, say two weeks to final presentation, that means starting all over again—yet the time was still ticking. Talk about a pressure cooker. However, after all said and done, it feels rewarding to know that you put your heart into it and that a prodigious amount of work has been done.
SN: What can be done to improve the architectural curriculum for the future of those that choose to pursue this profession?
UA: This is a tough one as I have not visited a School of Architecture in a while now. However, I will say this—there is the need to incorporate the right type of technology and the use of applications in conducting research, and that the curriculum should focus more on the practice of architecture.
Architects need to understand the rules of Sales Force
SN: Are there some subjects that can improve the practice of Architecture after college? If yes, what subjects are these?
UA: Teaching new Architects how to be good salespeople and the fundamentals of establishing a practice.
SN: Do you think more emphasis should be placed on hand-drafting in the same way that importance is now placed on CAD Design?
UA: In a school environment, yes. CAD design can be developed individually. I believe that there should be more emphasis on Arts in the study of architecture. More creative thinking should be encouraged.
SN: Do you belong to any Architectural Professional Body (e.g., AIA, RIBA, NIA, etc.)? If yes, are you certified through them? What is like being part of the professional body? If you are not a certified member, do you plan to become one?
UA: Yes, I do belong to NIA and AIA. With the AIA there are lots of continuing education programs going on. Also, because I have had to do a lot of travel in the last five years, I am just now starting the certification process with the AIA.
SN: What will you tell the young folk of the future who want to consider a future in Architecture? Can you give us some words of wisdom?
UA: Stay with it, steady the course, it is fun. Architecture quickly lets you know that you are onto something big from the get-go.
Mobile enhanced Augmented Reality—The Future Awaits!
SN: Is the future of Architecture bleak or is it robust? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook (i.e., the projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026) has an average growth rate for all occupations at 7 percent. Architecture is slower than average at 4%.. The data provided by BLS is an indication of bleakness, do you agree? What is causing this decline in the profession? How can it be reverted?
UA: Change is the only constant. To address this decline adequately, the way architecture is perceived and taught need to change pronto. However, before any change can be done, we need to study and find out what might be responsible for this and determine a way to address the concern. Architecture is no stranger to change. Architecture has always been a vehicle that drives change. Therefore, I am optimistic that the future for Architects is bright.
SN: How can we make the future of Architecture more appealing to the masses? Can you give us your take?
UA: The future of Architecture is settled, man cannot live outside of space. As long as this holds true, Architecture will continually play a fundamental role in human existence. Architecture is always appealing. That appeal and its relationship to man will only continue to grow. In time past, the central focus of Architecture was the objects it created. However, Architecture and its effects are now centered on people and the environment. The focus is now how the two can be blended harmoniously with reduced negative impact. This is a good thing, and Architects are getting better at doing this every day.
Architecture and the Environment—Are futuristic cities the way to go? We shall see!
SN: How has the field of Architecture been influenced by the advent of the computer age? What future exchanges do we expect to see in the field of Cyber-Architecture?
UA: If the goal is to reduce the distance between would be users and the end-product, the future will see the development of specialized architectural software that will pull information directly from our brains. Then using a 3D building printer, the house is placed or built up exactly how you want it—taking into proper consideration all parameters of design and construction.
SN: How will the future of Architecture be affected by the advent of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Age?
UA: The AI age is here to stay. The process explained in the answer provided to the previous question applies. As we speak, our devices already know our browsing habits. This is because of millions of information pulled from our browsing history. This history is often used to generate targeted advertisements. I see this same process incorporated into the future of things to come including Architecture. I foresee a scenario where millions of information gathered will be filtered and processed for establishing a near perfect designed to match the environment. Perhaps at this point, the roles of the Architect will change as new tools evolve.
Scoopnook thanks Uzoma Aliche for interviewing with us
SN: Do you have any architect mentor? If yes, how did the mentor/mentee relationship help mold who you have become?
UA: I had, and still have Architects I look to and draw inspiration from. This has helped me build a successful practice regardless of my physical location.
SN: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
UA: Dream big. Set bigger goals. Believe in yourself even when no one believes in you. Go for it, don’t look back.
SN: Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
UA: Our first design-build project at UABW was a real-life situation that inspired me. Whenever self-doubt creeps in, I close my eyes and remember this project, and how I was given no chance at all, but after we pulled it off. I began to realize how powerful the mind is and have learned never to underestimate my abilities.
SN: What else would you like the world to know about Architecture and your practice?
UA: Architecture is a complete discipline. It is the only profession that gives one the liberty to seek understanding in other fields of life. Every new project affords you the opportunity to invent something. It gives one the autonomy to explore the creative side of the brain. Architecture demands freedom and formlessness. It gives one the liberty to be a little careless and reckless with your imaginations without prejudice. How cool is that? In summary, architecture is fun!
Architecture is fun!
SN: Give us some final future advice for all architects and architects-to-be?
UA: It is essential to do your research before applying to join a School of Architecture. When you find the right school for you, approach architecture with an open mind, hold nothing back. See every design challenge as an opportunity to push yourself to new limits, even when people think your ideas are ridiculous. Accept constructive criticisms, but always believe in yourself. Confidence is the biggest and best toolkit you need to be a successful Architect or indeed anything else for that matter.
We are finally at the end of the journey. We want to thank Mr. Uzoma Aliche, Architect extraordinaire, for taking the time to answer the questions that we threw at him—it was a lot, I know, but with was a fun experience. We have entered his architectural lair, and we have journeyed with him through the halls of time and space to understand Architecture from his perspective. As we see, the profession is fun and as well as profitable. As he advised, should you be considering this profession, think it through and be ready to make all the sacrifices of sleepless nights and days of work and at last get to the end of your goal. For more about Mr. Aliche’s journey, be sure to make a comment or two about your thoughts. We at Scoopnook and Mr. Aliche will be glad to interact with you on any questions that you may have concerning Architecture or his practice. To all who relish Architecture, be sure to check out more topics via our Architecture and Interiors category. Until the next interview, may the profession of Architecture continue to live long and thrive.