Brooklyn-based, Nigerian-born artist Olalekan Jeyifous has always been fascinated by the way cities grow, says CityLab writer Tanvi Misra. Now, the architect is imagining what Lagos, Nigeria's biggest city and one of the fastest-growing metropolises in the world, would look like if architects embraced the existing infrastructure and built on it.
“My work often responds to either the anxiety or potential of these spaces, and how one navigates, maps, and perceives them," he says. He depicts ramshackle high rises buzzing with plant, human, animal, and mechanical parts. Misra describes his vision:
Jeyifous created his “shanty-megastructures” using 3D computer models based on the materials and construction techniques of actual settlements in Lagos, and then fused them with photographs. This project, which he initially created for an architecture competition, is primarily conceptual: it “provides an alternative vision of the future on a continent and in a country that isn’t depicted as much as it should be,” Jeyifous says.
But there’s another point to these images that is grounded in real life. Through them, Jeyifous hopes to highlight urban disparities. Be it Lagos, Mumbai, Brooklyn, or Chicago, the poor often live marginalized and informal spaces, and are almost never portrayed as the central characters in the story of their city’s growth. In Jeyifous’s series, they are the stars. “A primary takeaway is that development should include the disenfranchised and not just the rich or middle class,” Jeyifous says.