Jabi Lake Masterplan in Abuja Shortlisted for Award

Studio Seilern Architects were commissioned to design a 31 hectare waterfront masterplan for Duval Properties Ltd in Abuja, Nigeria.  We have just returned from Abuja where we presented the Master Plan to the chief planning officer and his team which was very positively received.

Studio Seilern Architects are the lead architects and masterplanners for the scheme and are delighted to be working on this project with Buro Happold for engineering services, landscape designers Hyland Edgar Driver and cost consultants Currie & Brown.

Situated on Jabi Lake the project aims to create a new destination for the city.  A place to live, work, shop, be entertained and above all, to enjoy.


A loose arrangement of these building clusters creates the possibility of a flexible plan that generates multiple aspect residential units. 


A flexible approach to the phased growth of the site, where committing to the size of the building can easily be adapted over time.


Rather than committing to a cluster of larger buildings, we chose to break the building units into clusters of two, three or four components.  Achieving both density + retaining a human scale and mutiple roof garden.


The flexibility that the residential tower can offer allows for potential high rise buildings to be positioned alongside the street and cascading low rise buildings towards the lakefront creating variable skylines.


The creation of a waterfront park: which varies in size and activities according to the functions it fronts. Rather than a waterfront promenade, the waterfront park aims to create a truly vibrant public space by including specific activities and happenings through its length.

A double frontage concept: There are two distinct frontages: the road-front and the water- front.

Each influences the form making of the buildings. The placement and scale of the buildings will create the identity of each and how it relates to the wider context.

The Residential meets the waterfront creating a vibrant space. Residential and waterfront merge together, having a dialogue with each other. 


In plan, a series of units measuring 15m x 15m of two units each are arranged at varying angles to each other, forming differently shaped gaps and interstitial spaces. The number of tower components in each cluster can also vary, generating buildings of various sizes and density.  Each residential unit can be considered as prime as they will all have a triple aspect and exterior space providing a sense of being larger than they actually are.

Due to the lack of existing local market information, the scheme also needed to be flexible in its use and each building should be adaptable to become a mixed-used live/work configuration. The 15x15m block ensures that both residential and office configuration could be adapted. 

The richness and variety of the clusters resembles a feeling of the northern Nigerian village. The loose clustering of a very simple rectangular extrusion creates a multitude of massing iterations: the variety of arrangement possibilities of repeating blocks means that no two buildings are the same.


Flexibility of density:  The building massing has been developed in plan to form a coherent ensemble, and define both water and road frontages.  So while the planometric layout has been set, the sectional number of stories can be decided according to the market demands at the time of development:  the plan remains the same, it is the section that changes. 

The deciding factor that determines the maximum site density will be the parking requirement.  On the residential site development, the area of structured parking and the levels of excavation are determined by the water-table.  The maximum number of stories of each building is thus determined by the area of basement parking achieved. 


Flexibility of use:  Depending on the market demands, some of the buildings have been studied to be either offices or residential.  While the massing and bulk remains the same, the floor-to-floor heights and the parking provisions have been studied to be able to adapt to either use. 

The waterfront promenade would also be detailed to adapt to either use.  It would be up to the plot developer to decide whether a more appropriate use would be either as residential or office.

Façade Iterations:

To maintain flexibility of use and density, the façade will invariably be different in terms of ventilation and glazing requirements.  In order to achieve this flexibility, while maintaining an identifiable language to the overall development, 3-4 systems of exterior louvres can be applied.  Each volume should be clad with a different louvre geometry emphasising the volumetric breakdown of the buildings. 

About the Architects:

Studio Seilern Architects (SSA) is a London-based creative practice established in 2005 by Christina Seilern. Their rich portfolio of built work spans the UK, Europe, and Africa.

Studio Seilern Architects have concentrated on producing works in East and West Africa.  Currently SSA is working on 4 projects in East Africa, include a 6.538sm mixed use scheme in Lagos, a private residence in the outskirts of Lagos, a 402.059sm mixed-use Master plan in Abuja (capital city of Nigeria), and a 67.458sm residential scheme in Accra, Ghana. 

SSA tackles projects on both a large and small scale, from new build to restoration works, with each project informing another. The studio believes that architecture does not just rely on innovation and design, but on the ability to deliver a project from conception through to completion. The studio’s particular expertise lies within commercial, multi-unit residential, mixed-use, master planning, and educational projects. Current projects include a master plan in Abuja, Nigeria, a private residence in Lagos, Nigeria, a mixed-use development in Lithuania, and a private residential development under planning application in central London.

Before setting up her own studio, Christina Seilern was founding director of Rafael Viñoly Architects London, responsible for RVA’s European portfolio. She has delivered a wide range of projects, from commercial high-rise and residential projects, to laboratories, performing arts spaces, and museums. Projects included 20 Fenchurch Street in London, Leicester’s Curve theatre, Colchester’s First site: New site Contemporary Arts centre, Wageningen University’s environmental research centre, and Princeton University’s Institute for Integrative Genomics.

Jabi Lake Project Credits

UK Consultants:







Images credits: ©Studio Seilern Architects