Fry and Drew: Buildings Now

University of Ibadan, Nigeria

In August of last year, some of the Transnational Architecture Group visited one of Fry and Drew’s best-known projects in West Africa – Nigeria’s first university, the University of Ibadan (1947-60).

Fry and Drew planned the campus, situated on a site of five square miles of farm and forest land, and designed many of the associated residential and teaching buildings. The campus is approached from a tree-lined avenue leading directly to a central tower, administrative offices and lecture hall. From this administrative centre, residential colleges and teaching buildings are laid out roughly east-west to take advantage of the south-west breeze.

Speaking of building in West Africa, Maxwell Fry summarises their straightforward but considered approach, which is shown so well at Ibadan University:

‘We were fated to make a new architecture out of our love for the place and our obedience to nature, and to make it with cement and steel, asbestos sheets, wood above the termite line, glass, paint and some stone later, and not much else’.


Fry’s words are demonstrated in their design for the central lecture hall, above. Trenchard Hall is constructed of a reinforced concrete frame infilled with concrete block and local stone. The ceiling sweeps up from the stage, over the internal balcony, and finishes at eaves level to the main elevation (shown above). Timber is used freely to the hall’s interior and adds warmth to the concrete columns.

Thanks to the Office of International Programmes, who made us very welcome and showed us around the university.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s