In the early to mid-20th century as a result of colonialism and independence across Africa, modernism became prominent as urbanization rapidly affected major Nigerian cities and towns. Modernism was reflected in the public projects designed and executed by expatriate firms of modernist architects and designers for the colonialists. In literature, most of the discussion on modernism has predominantly been focused on Europe and the Americas. There is very limited information available about the African continent, especially West Africa and Nigeria. In this paper, we discuss the designs of the first generation Nigerian Universities. Our goal is to introduce audiences to cultural expression and diverse perspectives of Nigerian spaces of this era, and thus contribute to the global design discourse. We will illustrate how the designers and architects acculturated the international style into the tropical climate and sociocultural context of Nigeria. We will discuss the impact of Nigerian indigenous cultures on the site layout, building form, spatial configuration, interior and exterior relationships, materials, construction techniques, symbols and aesthetics.
Keywords: Cultural expression; Modernism; design; architecture; developing world