By Jane Ogeah
In the course of my countless wandering when I took in the architectural masterpieces towering above other buildings in Lagos, the commercial city of Nigeria, it was difficult to look away from the cloud-piercing height of NECOM House of 32 floors. With its height staggering 520 feet and 160 metres soaring over Marina, Victoria Island, it is reportedly the tallest building in Nigeria and perhaps all of West Africa.
Similarly, my attention was drawn to the Union Bank building which stands at 124 metres and 407 feet. This building situated at Marina has a total of 28 floors. Though the aesthetics are not much to attract the eyes, its height is sure to hold one’s attention a second longer than other buildings in the surrounding.
Coming closer to the VI/Lekki axis, one cannot help but notice the Wings Towers, a twin 15-story grade A office building in Ozumba Mbadiwe Way. The Towers which comprise 27000 m2 of office space, houses Oando PLC amongst other offices and is also attributed to be green certified.
Around the Oniru area of Victoria Island, is a three-storey building branded Plot B22 and property of SystemSpecs, Nigeria’s foremost financial and human capital management technology firm. When the company began laying bricks for the building, to us passersby, the construction received no more scrutiny than any other regular building in Lagos. But after the unveiling in February 2020, and a tour of the facility revealed a lush green lawn, water fountain, sickbay, creche, a 100-capacity cafeteria, a fully furnished gymnasium, and exquisite lounges on all three floors, I certainly could not help but add it to my list of the workplace of choice for teeming youths.
Fascinating also is the fact that there are about 24 restrooms in the three-storey building. This specifically exemplifies B22 from several corporate blocks including the monumental Amazon Blackfoot building in which employees were subjected to a helter-skelter predicament sometime in 2015, due to insufficient men’s bathroom.
However, it is both unfortunate and disappointing to note that these beautiful places of work may no longer hold meaning to the world, because with the coronavirus pandemic putting a restriction to in-person interaction, offices have gone online, shutting the doors of their magnificent office buildings.
From now on to the future, corporates would say, once upon an era, the central design principle of the workplace was more than purely practical in which employees are objects in a cold calculus of efficiency. It was self-aware, occupant-centric and congenially atmospheric as solidly entombed in the words of Aristotle, ‘Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work’.
They would make references to visionary firms like the aforementioned and their eye-catching buildings, saying how they led the way through experiences driven by design principles that were sensitive to not only the dynamics of the work-life continuum but also the immutable characteristics of human nature.
It would be a story told because working in an office henceforward could become just a status symbol. This, therefore, means that companies may no longer invest in the flamboyant façade or interior designs of offices and it is only a matter of time before fashionable workspaces become two thousand and late.