Studio Contra, Nigeria: Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2022

Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory is our annual round-up of exciting emerging architecture studios. Today, we announce Nigeria's Studio Contra joining our list

studio contra's design for red clay villa
(Image credit: press)

The newest addition to the Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2022, our annual list of exciting emerging practices from across the globe, is Nigeria's Studio Contra. Propelled to global fame by winning the commission for the Institute of Contemporary African Art & Film in the country’s Ilorin, Kwara State, the young practice also has a number of residential designs in its creative arsenal.

Who: Studio Contra

Studio Contra co-founders, Olayinka Dosekun-Adjei and Jeffrey Adjei, are an emerging force in the Nigerian – and global – architecture scene. The husband-and-wife team established their joint practice in Lagos in 2016 and were propelled to global prominence by winning the commission for the Institute of Contemporary African Art & Film in the country’s Ilorin, Kwara State. The project, low and sculptural, anchored to its site but also intricate and intriguing, is currently in construction. Not only is it the studio’s very first cultural build of this scale, it’s also Nigeria’s first purpose-built museum of visual and cinematic arts. 

Dosekun-Adjei and Adjei, however, are no one-trick ponies. Their growing portfolio includes pretty much every typology, from retail and cultural spaces to leisure and hospitality work, as well as a wealth of private house schemes, which are currently in design or under construction. Red Clay Villa (pictured) exemplifies their approach, which is about blending global influences with local identity, working to define contemporary Nigerian architecture. 

render of pink house design in nigeria

(Image credit: press)

What: Red Clay Villa

This design, created for a local housing association and a new residential community in the Lekki peninsula of Lagos, stands out for its clear, geometric forms and pink colour. Created as a monolithic composition, broken down into sections and smaller volumes in a sculptural whole, the house was conceived to work in its setting’s tropical climate. Environmental comfort was at the forefront of the design development, ensuring, for example, that doorways and glazing are set back into the façade to protect users from the sun. Vertical slats provide further shade where needed, and an internal courtyard not only brings light deep into the heart of the structure, but also ensures natural ventilation does its magic in passively cooling down the interiors (this is aided by clerestory windows and strategically planned openings and clearings within the house).

The home’s distinctive salmon hue comes from a mix of concrete with red clay and other pigments, as its sustainably manufactured clay bricks are rendered with pozzolana lime and red oxide. Internal surfaces are treated with a mixture of shea butter and ash for water resistance. Planting adds a further dimension to the villa, by seamlessly blending nature with architecture. Spanning 500 sq m and including four bedrooms, this family house draws on local vernacular forms and climatic conditions, while maintaining a distinct modern feel – a Studio Contra speciality. 

detail of facade in studio contra's design for red clay villa in Nigeria

(Image credit: press)

Why: Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2022

Conceived in 2000 as an international index of emerging architectural talent, the Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory is our annual listing of promising practices from across the globe. While always championing the best and most promising young studios, over the years, the project has showcased inspiring work with an emphasis on the residential realm. Now including more than 500 alumni, the Architects’ Directory is back for its 22nd edition. Join us as we launch this year’s survey – twenty young studios from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, France, Greece, India, Indonesia, Japan, Nigeria, Paraguay, Thailand, the UAE, the UK, the USA, and Vietnam with plenty of promise, ideas and exciting architecture.

render of interior of nigeria villa design using red clay

(Image credit: press)


Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).