Project to masterplan airport city in Nigeria ‘will underpin the practice for years to come’
Sheppard Robson has landed the contract to masterplan a new airport city, west of the Nigerian capital, Abuja.
The architectural practice, working alongside consultants Arup and Davis Langdon, will mastermind an 18-year programme to create a strategic regeneration plan for the 77,000km² Niger State region, centred around a presently little-used military airport at Minna.
The scheme, located in the heart of the west African country, will initially focus on creating a manufacturing hub around the refurbished airstrip and terminal buildings, but will move on to include rail links and housing.
Tim Evans, creative director of Sheppard Robson, said the approach from the project’s backers – the Niger State Government, Cortis Capital and partner Maevis – had come ‘out of nowhere’.
‘Nigeria is bringing in international companies of repute in the hope that they can start to change people’s perceptions of the country, which has not enjoyed the best of reputations historically,’ said Evans.
He acknowledged that the size and timescale of the scheme would ‘underpin’ the practice for years to come. But he added that the masterplan was about ‘scaleability’, and that the programme could be adapted if the city’s expansion slowed down or gained pace.
‘We will fast-track the airport, which will be built in 18 to 24 months,’ said Evans. ‘A molar-shaped “area of influence” will develop over the next six years and this will grow to 7,000km² within 12 years.’
As well as designing a ‘flexible’ airport, the practice is already looking at residential typologies.
Evans added: ‘The scheme will generate huge demand for homes and we are currently drawing up a housing type based on modern methods of construction.
‘It will be a cross between our £60,000 house and our zero-carbon Code for Sustainable Homes Level 6 house, and will take into account climate and culture.’