The National Assembly complex of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is an eye-catching architectural masterpiece that houses a bicameral legislature established under section 4 of the Nigerian Constitution consisting of a Senate and a 360-member House of Representatives. The body, scissored after the federal Congress of the United States, is designed to guarantee equal representation of the states irrespective of size in the Senate and proportional representation of population in the House.
The National Assembly complex is located in the three arm zone of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. With its distinctive features and dome shaped roof, it is one of the architectural landmarks in the Nigeria capital city of Abuja. The symbolic complex was constructed by I.T.B. Nigeria Limited, part of the construction division of the Chagoury Group which was established in 1995. The construction company which has a growing demand for specialist, civil engineering services is one of the few civil engineering and construction firms whose head office and main operations are in Africa.
The award of contract for the construction of the parliamentary edifice was made on February 18, 1996 by the Federal Capital Development Authority the prime consultants under the auspices of the Federal government of Nigeria with a contract sum of N7.0 billion. I.T.B Nigeria Limited was saddled with the responsibility of designing and constructing two chambers of the National Assembly Complex which comprises the House of Representatives and Senate, a Library, Restaurant, Offices and associated external works within a stipulated period of 30 months. The complex came to live in 1998
The National assembly complex was modeled after ‘The United States Capitol’, atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Capitol is the seat of the United States Congress, the legislative branch of the U.S. Federal Government, completed in the year 1800.
The National assembly complex consists of 40,000 square metres gross floor area of concrete structure for both the legislative and senatorial arm of the National assembly. The two chambers of the complex is serviced by a central atrium. The complex is composed of a large lobby with a dome at a height of 50 metres,and the two chambers for the house of representatives and Senators, accommodating 650 seats and 150 seats respectively.
The extremely short construction period (30 months), made it necessary for ITB Nigeria limited to develop a construction system to meet the project deadline. The structural element was therefore a combination of insitu concrete and pre-cast elements. The internal partitions are in plastered and painted concrete block walls, with high quality profile aluminium glazed windows and doors. The ceiling is finished with acoustic suspended ceiling type while the floor is finished with a combination of vitrified tiles, marble tiles and granite tiles.
The state-of-the-art mechanical and electrical installation includes a central air-conditioning system, fire fighting and fire detection system, access control systems and standby generators.
The complex has been provided with a sophisticated voting system, sound distribution system, building management system and close circuit T.V. (CCTV). There are also meeting rooms, hearing rooms, committee rooms, single offices for elected members, and a clinic, library and printing room. The complex includes a 80,000 square metres ceremonial plaza, which can accommodate more than 1000 people at any one time.
The dome of the National assembly- an ancient architectural adoption of developed countries has been a subject of controversy towing along religious lines. Atop the dome is the nation’s coat of arm.
A dome (from Latin: domus) is an architectural element that resembles the hollow upper half of a sphere. Even its precise definition has been a matter of controversy. Domes have a wide variety of forms and specialized terms to describe them. A dome can rest upon a rotunda or drum as it is with the dome of the National assembly complex. It can be supported by columns or piers, that transition to the dome through squinches or pendentives. A lantern may cover an oculus and may itself have another dome.
Domes have a long architectural lineage that extends back into prehistory and they have been constructed from mud, stone, wood, brick, concrete, metal, glass, and plastic over the centuries. The symbolism associated with domes includes mortuary, celestial, and governmental traditions that have likewise developed over time.
The domes of the modern world can be found over religious buildings, legislative chambers, sports stadiums, and a variety of functional structures.
However, the dome of the National Assembly building complex has raised eye brows over the years as to its symbol. Some argue that it has Islamic affiliations though what seats atop the dome is the country’s coat of arm. That brings me to this question; Is the dome really a symbol of Islam? That’s a topic for another day.
Senator Bukola Saraki and Alhaji Yakubu Dogara were yesterday elected as senate president and speaker of the upper and lower house of the country’s bicameral National assembly respectively.