Makoko Floating School by NLÉ studio is a prototype structure that addresses physical and social needs in view of the growing challenges of climate change in an urbanizing African context. The movable ‘building’ is currently located in the aquatic community of Makoko in Lagos, the lagoon heart of Africa’s second most populous city. Here about 100,000 people live in housing units built on stilts with no roads, no land and no formal infrastructure to support day-to-day survival.
The floating structure is invulnerable to flooding and storm surges, adapts to tidal changes and varying water levels and it is designed to use renewable energy, to recycle organic waste and to harvest rainwater. Thanks to its relatively low center of gravity, the A-shape structure provides stability and balance and can shelter up to one hundred adults in extreme weather conditions.
The first level of the building is an open play area for school breaks and assembly, which also serves as a community space during after hours. The second floor is an enclosed space for two to four classrooms, providing enough space for sixty to a hundred pupils. A staircase on the side connects the open play area, the classrooms and a semi enclosed workshop space on the upper level.
The simple yet innovative structure adheres to ideal standards of sustainable development with its inclusive technologies for renewable energy, waste reduction, water and sewage treatment as well as the promotion of low-carbon transport. Furthermore a team of eight Makoko based builders constructed it using eco-friendly, locally sourced bamboo and wood procured from a local sawmill.
Recycled empty plastic barrels found abundantly in Lagos were used for the building’s buoyancy system, which consists of 16 wooden modules, each containing 16 barrels. The modules were assembled on the water, creating the platform that provides buoyancy for the building and its users.
NLÉ is an architecture, design and urbanism practice focused on developing cities and founded by Nigerian-born architect Kunlé Adeyemi.
“One of the megacentury’s dominant and unstoppable trends is urbanization. The outcome is a growing number of megacities worldwide, all of which face the same challenges. It is the cities of the developing world that will generate responsible solutions for the larger world”. Says Adeyemi.
The project was initially self-funded by NLÉ and later received research funds from Heinrich Boll Stiftung as well as funds for its construction from the UNDP/Federal Ministry of Environment Africa Adaptation Programme (AAP).