Although general residential vacancy rates in Nigerian urban centers are low currently, there seems to be a “ghost building” phenomenon in the highbrow areas- particularly Ikoyi and Victoria Island in Lagos. From conversations, people suggest that these deserted properties exist because of a disconnect between their costs and the value potential buyers or tenants believe is being offered.
The history of a city is important and is essentially what gives it character and a sense of community. One of the many ways to honour this history is to preserve its built architecture by restoring and renovating its old and deserted buildings. This revival has many advantages, but before I tell you about the numerous advantages of reviving ghost buildings, here is a short story of how we rejuvenated our 1st ghost building at Ikoyi called The Lagos Manor and brought it back to life.
Our Managing Director, Olaposi Lawore and a few of our directors, were driving through Ikoyi on this beautiful morning, when they noticed this old building that was once owned by (name withheld). The house was old, but its beauty was undeniable. “The older the berry, the sweeter the juice,” they say. They pulled over to look and discovered that this house was built in the 90s and contained 15 apartments with a collection of one, two and three bedroom units. The interior was worn, and the house almost totally unoccupied with only a few remaining tenants, but something that was undeniable was the solid structure of the building.
At HEREL, we are committed to continually redefining living experiences through spaces, and this building was a perfect opportunity to do that; taking something and making it better than we found it.
As much as it was a beautiful experience bringing this building back to life, it was not easy. Have you heard the old saying “Measure twice, cut once”? It turns out that this is sound renovation advice: the more time you spend planning, the more smoothly the project is likely to run. Our thought process for this renovation work began with our next homeowners and renters, asking how we can ensure that this building redefines their living experience and stands the test of time.
We commenced with conducting our structural evaluation of the building, which we later named, The Lagos Manor and the works began. “It was a demanding experience that required the efforts of both HEREL team members, and our contractors” said Osemudiamen Ogbeide, Head Projects at HEREL.
Renovation of The Lagos Manor included restoration works, design tweaks and in some instances rethinking the entire space. For example, we had to carve out larger bedroom spaces, knock down the pool side bar to create a play and green area, completely rewire the building amongst others. “One of the most memorable aspects for me was raising the ground to prevent flooding of the space, building a service quarters and creating more parking space for our clients” he added.
‘’What is historically significant is worth preserving. The thought of our clients living in, and experiencing all of the intrinsic values we have infused in this vintage, but still modern home brings me a lot of satisfaction.” said Olaposi Lawore