Archive: The Work of Alan Vaughan-Richards

Ola Uduku and Michael Collins

Nigerian-British architect Alan Vaughan-Richards (1925-1989) left an extraordinary wealth of fragile drawings and materials in his Lagos Island home at the time of his untimely death.

His work provides a rare glimpse into a form of adaptive architectural practice that responded to the culture, place, and climatic conditions of late 20th-century Lagos. For the triennial, visitors are invited to view this archive in a reconceptualised environment, where the spaces of his home, his drawings, and his thoughts on architectural education are explored — augmented by the sounds of Lagosian life in the heady 1970s that infused his work.

The installation deliberately incorporates outdoor and indoor spaces, as exemplified in Vaughan-Richards’ sustainable design approach and his integration of the ‘outdoors’ into Nigerian life. Richards’ house served as a test bed for his ideas, and as a constant work in progress, it embodied a sense of adaptability.

Vaughan-Richards’ drawing office and living room are reinterpreted through the medium of textiles, printed canvas, and indigo-dyed cotton, in part connecting to his wife — prominent socialite Ayo Vaughan-Richards — and her love of fashion. The afterlife of this nomadic installation is conceived as a wearable archive; these garments are integrated with the exhibit and will subsequently travel across the globe. His daughter, Remi Vaughan-Richards, complements the exhibition with a series of films showing his works in present-day Lagos, with locations identified on a map adapted from Vaughan-Richards and Kunle Akinsemoyin’s seminal FESTAC ‘77 book, “Building Lagos”.

Archive: The Work of Alan Vaughan-Richards