Studio Contra’s Winning Design Transforms Edo Museum with Striking Blend of Tradition and Modernity

Studio Contra Proposal EMOWAA02

Studio Contra, an architecture firm based in Lagos, has emerged as the winner of a prestigious competition to design an Art Guesthouse situated within the newly envisioned pedestrianized district, master-planned by Adjaye Associates for the Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA). Their winning proposal ingeniously melds pre-colonial Benin architectural aesthetics with contemporary design principles, aiming to redefine the urban landscape of the city.

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Studio Contra’s website describes their winning design for the Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA) as a tribute to the grandeur of Benin palace structures. Historical accounts from early European visitors vividly portray the king’s court as a place of vastness and awe, distinguished by expansive courtyards, lengthy galleries, and towering pitched roofs.

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Central to this remarkable project is the profound reverence for timber, a fundamental element in ancient Edo architecture, meticulously crafted by the esteemed royal guild of woodworkers known as “onwina.” Traditional construction methods of that era included the use of clay earth for lower walls and columns, timber beams and rafters for roofing, and timber shingles for external roof coverings. The proposal ingeniously marries contemporary and traditional materials in a novel and innovative arrangement.

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The project’s most striking feature is its captivating pitched roofs, serving as both eye-catching exterior elements and versatile interior spaces suitable for a wide range of purposes, from intimate gatherings to grand events. Nestled within a thoughtfully designed courtyard garden, the building thoughtfully invites natural light, fresh air, and the lush beauty of the outdoors into its core.

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Studio Contra’s design for the EMOWAA competition is a testament to its iconic pitched roofs, its deep respect for the art of timber craftsmanship, and its seamless fusion of traditional and modern elements. In doing so, it offers a visionary interpretation of what Benin buildings could look like in contemporary times. For further details on this groundbreaking proposal, please visit their website.

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