Work is well underway on construction of Nigeria's somewhat late marker for the millennium. Named the Nigeria Cultural Centre and Millennium Tower the project comes from the pens of Italian architectural firm Studio Nicoletti and Associates.
It consists of a 170 metre tower, which will be Nigeria's tallest building when completed along with an eight storey low rise section. Located in Abuja, the site is severed by a main road so the two buildings will be linked via an underground arcade.
The tower consists of three cylindrical concrete pillar like structures which are varying in height and linked together near the towers first peak using a disc shaped section which will house observation decks and a restaurant where visitors will be able to enjoy spectacular views of the city below while they eat. Around the pillars of the tower three transparent stainless steel wings wrap delicately but protectively around the base of the tower and gradually open outwards in a fan like fashion as they extend up the height of the tower.
The project also features a low rise, wedge shape building. This will have fully glazed facades and rises from 2 storeys at one end to approximately 11 storeys at the other. Inside the building which will hold the cultural centre its various zones are also constructed from glazing and are rather angular in appearance with the exception of a massive glass ball will a spiralling walkway which will possibly house botanical gardens.
The cultural centre will be home to a 1200 seat auditorium, museums and galleries, cultural centre, top notch hotel, fitness centre, restaurants and of course shoe shops where if the glazed theme is anything to go by you could just pick up some glass slippers.
With so much packed into the building the architects were keen to maximise space as much as possible and not only have they managed to create a pillar less space but also managed to make the buildings roof a focal point.
Using light steel and of course glazing the roof is a rather spectacular geometrically patterned affair, which almost looks like the gothic style vaulting found in many churches around Europe and is created using three flat saddle domes - a technique devised and prolifically used by Santiago Calatrava who has made it one of his signatures. This is then supported by reinforcing strip at the edges and by high tension supports emanating from where roof and building meet.
Despite being called the Millennium Tower and Cultural Centre the project is actually planned to be completed in 2011, in time for the capital's 20th birthday and promises to be much more exciting than some socks, a gift voucher and a cake.