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The future of architectural practice has always uncertain. Architects have to consistently reinvent themselves, thinking out of the box to remain relevant and viable

A Review of first things first

A review of First things first: A quick video

Before we get started, let’s watch a brief video on – yes you guessed right –  a review of first things first.

Well there you have it. The architect is the Jack of All Trades and Master of Architecture. Of course this is a play on the adage Jack of all trades and Master of None.

The Architect: Jack of all trades Master of None?

a review of first things first
The future of architectural practice has always been  uncertain. Architects have to consistently reinvent themselves, thinking out of the box to remain relevant and viable


Architects Registration Council of Nigeria, ARCON defines architecture as the art and science in theory and practice of design, erection, commissioning, maintenance, and management and coordination of allied professional inputs.

a review offirst things first
When I was a student, I often wondered whether I was studying fine art, engineering or building technology. This was due to the unique combination of science and art courses offered.

Architecture can be referred to as an allied discipline. This means architecture is a mix of  principles from the various fields of design, mathematics, structures,  chemistry,  humanities,  and environmental studies. That is why you needed that unique subject combination of arts, physics and mathematics for admission. When I was a student, I often wondered whether I was studying fine art, engineering or building technology with the unique combination of courses offered. The architect has always been considered a multi-talented individual. He/she takes care of not only the structure of the building, but also its function, aesthetic and experience, making him a jack of all trades and master of architecture.

A Review of First things First – So you want to be an architect?

Sometimes as an icebreaker to my lectures, I do a mini poll on why do you want to be an architect? You will be surprised at the answers I get. But it’s pretty safe to surmise that by the time a student is first semester 300 level or half way through the experience they are either wondering. “why on earth am I here”? Or while excelling wishing there ought to be a better way.

“As an Architect, you design for a present, with an awareness of the past, for a future that is essentially unknown.” – Norman Foster

I was a college junior in the early 1980s in the USA and I think I can say without a doubt that some things never change. I wondered about the same things when I was at the half way point. And the geographical location didn’t make a difference. Personally, I think every one takes a reality check every so often so if you’re feeling that way, never fear you’re in good company.

First things first: How do I excel?

First of all, I want to encourage you to explore my website. There are a number of blogs that I think will be very helpful you. In our time the web was a dream and we knocked ourselves out reading Sir Banister Fletcher’s A History of Architecture. For you, I recommend Emma Walshaw’s First In Architecture website. She has a little thing for starting out. Also I am personally not one to reinvent the wheel so you can go and look it up. This is not introduction to architecture. Rather it is a review of first things first.

I do have a checklist of dos and don’ts that I’ve adapted from here and here and there.  However the summary of this is. There is a time for everything in architecture and you have to get the timings right. If you wait to the last minute to do your work (the bane of most architecture students) you may pass but you will not excel. Architecture takes way  too much time to do well  and even if you crash it, you will probably crash land. Ouch.

A Review of First things first: Reach and Limits of Current Issues

This course is unique in that it gives you insights into how you can approach the other courses. That is because its rather philosophical in its approach. I also  helps you understand the why of the course you are offering currently (no pun intended please). For instance, you may wonder why I should study statically indeterminate structures. That is until you encounter a building that looks like this.

a review of first things first
The Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by Santiago Calatrava. This is an example of why we shouldn’t goof off in structures class. Of course it helps that he has a PhD in Structural Engineering too!

Analogous Architecture

The word analogous means to be comparable in certain respects. In other words analogous  examples typically makes clearer the nature of the things they are being compared with .In nature, there are animate and inanimate objects. Developing the built environment can be similar in some respects. This is because the construction has a combination of living and non living factors that affect the design and construction. All of the factors play a significant role in determining the nature of the built environment. The analogies used here are trees and forest.

Architectural Theory and the tree

We had earlier established the use of the tree to explain how ideas or concepts become fruits. Let us revisit this for emphasis. This sketch reveals that concepts through ideas are the roots and the design product in the fruits.

a review of first things first

Architecture is a mysterious forest and Current Issues helps you become a good forester.

First Impressions Count

Even though you’re in your third year of architecture, I want to introduce my thoughts on architectural education at least in the way it applies in the University of Jos. Architecture is broken into 7 modes of study. These I would call the seven phyla of trees and all the trees in the forest and some of the branches are the various courses of study. It would help you to see them as interrelated as they each make up more than a part of the whole (Gestalt theory). We will talk about that in later classes.

I think I must add (since this is a course on current issues) that in the near future, the forest of  architectural education courses would look more like the one below to reflect Post COVID-19 realities.

You notice that the environmental control and physical sciences trees look taller than in the first forest. I believe that the role of I &CT  and environmental impact will expand to reflect the environmental responses to pandemic designs. Even though pandemics like COVID-19 are once in a century diseases, there are too many diseases in between to ignore, particularly in the face of globalisation.

Current Issues in the Architectural Forest of Education

The whole issue of the trees and forests is to see the intra and inter-relationships between current issues and other courses. It also looks at current issues in architectural thought and expression. Lets first consider the intra-relationship

Current Issues falls under history and theoretical studies. We use History of Architecture to lay down precedents or past references. We also look at Theory of the Creative Process. This will enable us determine the thoughts that inform the architectural expression. Current Issues therefore is the middle ground between History and Theory of the Creative Process.

Current Issues flows through the seven modules of architectural education taught at University of Jos. We examine the interrelationship between them. Highlighting current issues in building services technology examining Artificial Intelligence and new construction technologies.  And also identifying Human and social issues of the day including the Corona virus. Current Environmental design systems are examined as well. This is with a view to determining the effects on architectural design, graphics and I &CT development.

A Review of First things first

Hopefully we now understand the relationship between current issues and other courses in the department. Let us examine a few videos that are important to give us the right orientation as we review first things first.

Disclaimer: We don’t take ownership of any video uploaded here
Disclaimer: We don’t take ownership of any video uploaded here


A final review of  First things first

Imagine that you are in a hurry to put up a building. Do you start with the roof? The walls? I mean you are in a hurry, so why start with the foundation? It really takes a lot of time to do. Not to talk about the cost.

This sounds absurd to consider. However,  we must realise that in architecture like any knowledge based profession. First things come first.

First things first

Dr E.O. Ola-Adisa

Erekpitan Ola-Adisa is a US trained architect and researcher domiciled in North Central Nigeria. She combines practice of Architecture where she's actively involved in construction waste recycling and lecturing at the University of Jos, Department of Architecture for almost 20 years. As an architectural theoretician she seeks to demystify the "mysterious forest of Architecture" by getting the students to see both the forest and the trees using Gestalt principles. Equally important is her advocacy for best practices in Architecture to ensure viability of Architecture as a knowledge-based profession against Post COVID-19 realities.

This Post Has 64 Comments

  1. Didel

    Design and architecture of the forest sound pretty much the same, but I’m going
    to draw a tiny line separating the first from the second. Although it seems that
    architecture is somehow designing and engineering structures, I find it more accurate to
    bring to light what a design would necessarily mean and what architecture of forests are
    to realize.

    1. Dr E.O. Ola-Adisa

      I am happy you could tell the differences. The tiny separating line as you call it, though tiny is the yardstick for distinction. I will point out at this time that in the first class I was talking about the relationship between the design process and a tree, describing the sequence from concept to product. In the case of the forest, I was making analogy between learning architecture and the various components that make up that learning. I hope my explanations are not to subtle for you to understand.

      Please feel free to comment on any area that needs further clarification

  2. Sandra Sabo

    Good morning ma, your blogs are so helpful and the approuch which you use to explain Architecture and the architect is unique! I learnt something new again.

    1. Dr E.O. Ola-Adisa

      Thank you. I would be delighted in knowing in what way the posts have been helpful.

  3. Sule Philip Itopa

    These were really helpful notes and videos. Thank you ma

  4. David M Shaldas

    When I was in the polytechnic my design lecturer use to say God himself is an Architect, I now believe it. The architecture of the forest show that the building is made of elements and components that materialize in to form. The current issue in Architecture can be seen as a way to compare the past and the present issues. In design there are step to follow. Thanks ma.

    1. Dr E.O. Ola-Adisa

      Well said David. I can’t take the credit though. Vitruvius Pollio was a remarkable man.

  5. Monasor Iyesomi Merry-Claire

    Current issues in architecture will keep on emerging with each passing day. I look forward to finding new solutions to our architectural problems and developing out of the box ideas. More grace ma’am.

  6. Yamden Tapji Andrew

    Thank you ma, these notes and videos are really helpful in such a way that I learnt more about who is an architect and what architecture is all about.

    1. Dr E.O. Ola-Adisa

      Thanks for your kind words. The videos are also helpful to me. They help convey the messages that mere words fail to express adequately.

  7. Ben-wiwuga Nadumlebabari

    This post in particular is an eye opener, it has helped widen the aperture through which I view architecture.


    Thank you

    1. Dr E.O. Ola-Adisa

      You’re welcome. However I believe you’re not done, rather you’ve just begun.


    Thank you ma
    I have just learned how to excel in Architectural field of study……..

    1. Dr E.O. Ola-Adisa

      You’re welcome. Hard work doesn’t kill. You need it to excel in you studies

  10. Nathan Falang

    This was really helpful ma, helping me to understand that integrity, functional and aesthetics must be part of any successful design.

    1. Faith Dirsu Gideon

      The current issues in architecture emerges daily and you as an architect is relevant and ought to be current ,thank you ma , this was helpful

  11. Babayemi Taiye Elisha.

    Thanks very much ma for this excellent lecture on first things first in Architecture.

  12. Ukpoju Adam Emmanuel

    “The current Architect is the relevant Architect”. This is a motivation to studying more. Thanks Ma.

    1. Dr E.O. Ola-Adisa

      This axiom is especially important in the face of Post COVID-19 realities

  13. Jekreh Japhet Magaji

    Thank you very much ma
    for these great notes and eye openers videos

  14. Phinehas Ijere

    Read late,but better late than never.
    Thanks ma for bringing resources right to our finger tips

      1. Cyrus Agandu

        “The current Architect is the relevant Architect”. This is a motivation to learning more. Thank you ma’am de


    Wow this is actually educative.thank u ma, I really explore a particular aspect of architecture. When I was in the polytechnic I use to think its all about drawing just lines to make a design. But here I got to know at that there is more to drawing lines. The architect is really a jack of all trades master of architecture.its really interesting when taken stage by stage as said.

    1. Dr E.O. Ola-Adisa

      Thank you for your kind remarks. I pray Architecture is as pleasant journey for you as it has been for me so far

  16. Seth Umbugadu

    Reading this got me thinking about a lot things that pertains to “concept” in Architecture. No tree can survive without its roots, which means a good design must have a functional concept. However, as in the case of the tree visitors may not necessarily see the roots (concept) but May have knowledge of its existence. The only evidence of its existence is a flourishing tree (its fruits etcetera) which shows that the Forrester (Architect) has done his homework (conptept development) well enough.
    Thanks Ma’am, really enjoyed myself reading this.

  17. Onche Nissi

    Thank you ma wow this is really educating. You’ve made architecture look more interesting than I thought

  18. Onuh patrick

    This video is really an eye for me.
    Thank you ma

  19. Jesse Wazoh

    I always wondered why we were still drawing manually in this time and generation, but now I see it helps us to learn the basics and understand Architecture better. Thank you ma

  20. Constsnce Christopher

    I really appreciate the videos and the write ups, it has help to know more about architecture.

  21. Adams Daniel ngbede

    Exposure to this form of information further engrace us with new attributes and understanding of architecture as a past, present and futuristic form of arts and sciences. Thankyou ma

  22. Olumide Akosile

    Very helpful and inspiring 😇

  23. Hiangya Aondona Kevin

    This was very helpful, thank you ma

  24. Nathan sati

    This is resourceful. I perceived that the principles of architecture can truly be likened to the principles of art and design and may just be the same although there is a fine line between. Both serve humanity and are an expression of both personal and societal values.

  25. Akullah Orseer

    the analogy of architecture as a forest really made me put things into perspective, and how all the courses intertwine to make me a better architecture student

    1. Dr E.O. Ola-Adisa

      That’s wonderful. This mysterious forest should be demystified this semester

  26. Uj2018EV0072

    I believe that identifying ‘current issues’ in architecture is the first step to a successful design. This is very helpful

  27. Bello Nafiu Akanni

    I am very happy and excited that the study is able determine the basic criteria that, in the opinion of path users, determine the use, attractiveness, and importance of forest

  28. Joshua Eunice

    The Architecture of the Forest show that the structure is made of components and elements that result into form

  29. Othman

    Reading through this….I was wondering why am I just getting to know ‘ the first thing first’
    I’m beginning to think current issues should be considered and thought in 100L.
    When you don’t get the fundamentals in architecture you would only cut corners and may not excel.

    1. Dr E.O. Ola-Adisa

      Thank you for your comments. First things first are checklist to be sure we’re on course. The making of an architect is rather lengthy in Nigeria 4 years undergraduate + 1 year national service+ 2 years post graduate + 2 years tutelage before you can write professional exams.

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