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Glasgow firm gets creative in Nigeria

A GLASGOW architecture practice is swapping Lanarkshire for Lagos with a commission to design a new university for the creative arts in Nigeria.

Stallan-Brand has been selected to design the African University of the Creative Arts – pictured above, an artist's impression – which aims to eventually have 15,000 students. To be built with private money and contributions from the likes of the World Bank, the school will specialise in teaching art, architecture and design, textiles, fashion and the performing arts.

The project is being spearheaded by entrepreneur Ejemen Ojeabulu, who is partly based in London. The board that has been set up to spearhead the project is chaired by Nigerian Nobel Prize-winning writer, Wole Soyinka.

Stallan-Brand's design director, Paul Stallan, who is flying out to visit the proposed site in Lagos today, said that the agency had picked up the work through its education specialism, which also currently includes designing schools in South Lanarkshire.

"The arts context in Africa is not really celebrated for its achievements, so this is a hugely exciting project," he said.

"The board will be looking at significant corporate sponsorship in the same way that America funds a lot of its faculties. We have had meetings with the Nigerian managing director of Shell, for example. People like that are critical for this project. Once there is evidence of progress, the hope is that it will snowball.

"One of the key areas they will focus on will be the black community in the US, looking to get endorsements from the likes of Beyoncé or Will Smith."

The agency is masterplanning the overall project, as well as designing the first phase in detail. This aims to be open within three-and-a-half years, with places for 2000 students, with the whole university completed in 10 years.

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