There are only a handful of Mansions in the entire country but duplexes are everywhere. Fame is good but lies are not. The Fake-it-till-you-make-it syndrome and pepper-dem-gang lifestyle make it difficult to separate fiction from reality most times. Some of our entertainment celebrities manage to acquire a duplex, maybe one with some level of sophistication, and then turn around to claim such houses are mansions and gullible followers swallow these lies hook, line, and sinker.
A Duplex house in the Nigerian context is a single-block house with dual floors (the ground and first floor i.e. 1-storey building or the combination of a basement floor and a ground floor), with each floor having at least one room. This room could either be a bedroom or a living room. Even a simple bungalow apartment with a bonus (upper) room is a duplex in that sense. They are designed as a compact unit in which each floor is linked to the other either by a staircase, an elevator, or an allied system.
There are various types of duplexes. The commonest types are the stand-alone or fully detached, semi-detached or terrace duplex, and the pent-duplex or duplex with penthouse.
When a duplex is built as a single block usually having its compound, it is referred to as a stand-alone or fully detached duplex. They commonly consist of 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 bedrooms with 2 standard living rooms, one mostly on the ground floor that is generally open to visitors and another (usually on the upper floor) that is for the occupants often identified uniquely as ‘family living’. A terrace duplex is a row of units of duplex standing side by side with each other in the same block and often sharing a partitioning wall(s). They could be distinct in design and outlook or share a striking resemblance. The commonest types in Nigeria are the identical ones in rows of 3 or more units.
Pent duplexes are duplexes with an extra free pent floor. Usually, the extra free floor is for recreation or relaxation. If the pent floor is not completely free and has a standard room on it that is connected to the other floors, then it is essentially a triplex. There are many triplexes around and are in a way, of bigger stature than regular duplexes. They are bogus and are often designed as castles. Like mansions, quadruplexes are very rare in this part of the world too. A Maisonette is best described as a duplex-on-duplex and is not the same as a quadruplex. But Triplexes don’t qualify as mansions just on the strength of their height. For Example, you will see a lot of triplexes in Pinnock Beach Estate, Agungi, and several duplexes in Lake View Estate, Ajah but you hardly find a mansion in any of these estates mentioned. You will find mansions in high-end Ikoyi in Lagos and Maitama District of Abuja and elsewhere.
The elements of luxury and size are not the only distinguishing factor between a duplex and a mansion. There is the core element of functionality and add-ons. Mansions are large luxury houses usually purpose-built, fully-fitted, and customized, often consisting of several sizable living rooms and bedrooms with specialized service chalets all in one place and connected. Mansion architecture exudes a sense of grandeur with tall ceilings or headroom, large windows, and a beautiful façade. Modern mansions will have a helipad and all the usual features which include bogus kitchens, indoor cinemas, gym, spa, extensive gardens, beautiful landscapes, gas tank/pump, self-powered, sports areas, infinity pools, infrared saunas, intercom, close circuit television, smart home installations, garages, special artwork, They generally have a larger footprint than regular houses or duplexes.
Duplexes can be semi-luxurious, non-luxurious, or luxurious but all mansions are palatial and luxurious by definition and style. A duplex is to a mansion what a ferry is to a ship. If you have to stand in front of your house to observe whether it is a mansion, then it’s not.