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Makoko Floating School by NLE Architects, Lagos

A floating school constructed from bamboo and timber gives a poor waterborne community in Lagos a social focus

A pilot project for a floating school, built for the community of Makoko on the lagoon fringe of Nigeria’s most populous city. Around 100,000 people live in Makoko in houses built on stilts. Yet the community has no roads, no land and no formal infrastructure to support it and is precariously under threat from the municipal government, which has attempted to demolish it.

In many ways Makoko epitomises the critical challenges posed by urbanisation and climate change across Africa. At the same time it also inspires possible new solutions and alternatives to the invasive culture of land reclamation.

In partnership with various NGOs, Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi, who formerly worked for OMA, devised a prototype floating structure to serve primarily as a school while also being scalable and adaptable for other uses, such as a health centre, market or housing.

Floating_School_NLE_7524_web_The simple A-frame structure is extremely stable and can also be customised for other uses

Constructed from locally sourced bamboo and timber, the simple and economical A-frame structure allows for customisation depending on needs and capacities. Its low centre of gravity provides stability even in turbulent conditions and recycled plastic barrels form an efficient buoyancy system.

The jury was impressed by the project’s determination and ingenuity in harnessing the transformational potential of architecture to address an extreme social context.

The school was built on the lagoon fringe of Nigeria’s most populous city of Lagos

The school was built on the lagoon fringe of Nigeria’s most populous city of Lagos


Architect: NLE Architects
Photographer: Iwan Baan

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