Makoko Slums: Staying Afloat After the Flood, Lagos As First Phase of Floating Town

Makoko Slums: Staying Afloat After the Flood, Lagos As First Phase of Floating Town

For the residents of Makoko, Lagos in Nigeria, the threat of flooding is a part of their daily existence, with the July 2012 floods in Nigeria killing 363 people and displacing over 2 million residents. Out of this devastation and the subsequent eviction of residents from slums built on the waterfront, a floating school and a floating town is being created in this water community, designed by Kunlé Adeyemi, a Nigerian-born, Netherlands-based architect, urbanist and creative researcher.

Adeyemi is founder and principal of NLÉ, an architecture, design and urbanism practice, based in Amsterdam (Netherlands).

The Makoko Floating School, a floating building prototype for African water communities, together with the Lagos water community, are designs which will, according to the architects, "pioneer sustainable development in coastal African cities". NLÉ architects currently are looking at a similar project in the Niger Delta. The design of the school came after the architects conducted research and conceptualised designs for the school in May 2011.

The Makoko Floating School is built on a flotation platform and is being constructed using local materials. A 3-storey high wooden structure with space for rainwater storage, it also features a playground and green area on the ground floor, together with two further classrooms on the first and second floor. According to the progress report issued by the architects, the school will be completed by the end of the month, with the floating houses being finished in September of this year and the Lagos Water Community project by the end of 2014.

Speaking about the design of the floating school, architect Kunlé Adeyemi said that using floating devices meant they were not relying on the total strength of the soil, as the soil around Makoko is particularly loose. He spoke of the adaptability of the design, as the water level changes frequently in the area, so they 'wanted a design that would adapt to the changing conditions'. He added that the area has now become a public, communal space with the community interested to see materials that they are familiar with used in a different way.

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