Makoko Floating School in Lagos designed by NLÉ architects

The floating school as a symbol of the rebirth of a community

by Malcolm Clark
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The Makoko Floating School designed by the architectural firm NLÉ materialises the meaning of architecture as a strongly impacting means on the dynamics of social nature.

In addition to capturing the attention for the imposing and impressive wooden structure that floats between the shores of the lagoon of Lagos (Nigeria), it plays a much more important role as a catalyst of the energy of this slum's inhabitants in the desperate attempt to save their homes from the application of the municipal authorities to dismantle the area to renew it.

The state of disrepair and dilapidation of the slum cannot be ignored, but it is equally true that you can not uproot the culture of this extended community with the sole thought of building development, without considering other alternatives of urban renewal.

The NLÉ project represents precisely this alternative way of development. A structure built with the cooperation of the community and by using recycled or locally available material.

The school is a prototype of a floating structure which is erected on a platform made of wooden planks laid on plastic barrels. The building develops over three floors and consists of a triangular pattern of wooden elements. The whole system is energetically independent thanks to the installation of solar panels on the roof.

The ground floor (or should we say the floor at water level) contains a green common area, while the classrooms are located on the two upper floors. A system of rainwater harvesting allows the eco-friendly performance of the building to be increased.

The initiative, with a strong symbolic impact, will also ensure equal education for the children of the neighbourhood, including an economic return, as a tourist attraction for the city.

The project clearly reflects the spirit of the architectural firm, which is firmly rooted in the fabric of Lagos, the birthplace of the architecture office's founder Kunlé Adeyemi, but at the same time projected towards the development of new systems of architecture typical of Dutch culture where one of the local branches of the architectural firm is located.

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    Makoko Floating School 92

    Makoko Floating School

    Lagos / Nigeria / 2013