Prof N Elleh is the Head of the School of Architecture and Planning in the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of Witwatersrand (WITS), Johannesburg, was Professor of Architecture, at the University of Cincinnati from 2002 to 2017. Prior to leaving the University of Cincinnati to join Wits, he served as the coordinator of the Master of Science in Architecture Program in the School of Architecture and Interior Design, and he established and headed the Doctor of Philosophy program from 2010 to 2016. He was nominated and admitted to the Fellow of the Graduate School at the University of Cincinnati in 2014. He was trained as an architect at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and he received his Ph.D. in art history from Northwestern University. Elleh was a Fulbright Teaching-Research Scholar at the University of Cape Town. He studied post-apartheid nationalist-inspired architecture in South Africa (Jan – Aug 2012). He was also Visiting Architectural Historian at the same university in 2008; a recipient of the Samuel Kress, and Graham Architectural Foundation grants; a Samuel Ittleson Pre-Doctoral Fellow (2000-2002) at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art (CASVA), Washington, D.C.; and recipient of the Outstanding Junior Faculty Award at the University of Cincinnati in 2003.
His publications include African Architecture, Evolution and Transformation (McGraw Hill, 1996), the first comprehensive text on African architecture from antiquity to the present; Architecture and Power in Africa (Praeger, 2001), and Reading the Architecture of the Underprivileged Classes (2014). Research interests includes modern and contemporary architecture understood as diverse, multi-centered, regional and localized experiences in different parts of the world and art, architecture, public space, and politics as examined in his latest book Architecture and Politics in Nigeria (Routledge, 2017). He also studies vernacular modernism(s), architecture, tourism, and environmental resources.
His latest research examines methods and approaches for thinking through complex concepts, ideas, theories, and thoughts in indigenous African languages for the purposes of clarity, understanding, and expanding meanings in different disciplines of learning. This process of thinking in one’s original language inspired him to establish Wits Vernacular Innovations in Technology & Science (WITS-VITS), a platform that supports first year architecture and planning students to think conceptually from their cultural backgrounds.