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by Michael Keller

Hope Floats

This Nigerian school is set to rise. The floating structure was built by Dutch and Nigerian architecture, design and urbanism firm NLÉ to serve the slum neighborhood of Makoko, much of which exists on stilts above a lagoon in the port city of Lagos. Looking to mitigate the compounding problem of massive population movements to urban areas and the realities of climate change, NLÉ built the school as a prototype for a broader urban planning initiative called Lagos Water Communities Project.

Their design conforms to the local necessity of building houses on stilts above the lagoon with flotation platforms crafted from 256 common plastic barrels. This will allow the three-story primary school to rise along with sea level due to climate change or rainfall. The architects also designed it to provide natural ventilation, water from a rain collection system and power from rooftop solar panels to occupants. The almost 2,400 square-foot bamboo and wood building can safely hold up to 100 students.

NLÉ says an estimated 100,000 people live in Makoko, most without access to basic infrastructure. Those living in the estuarine neighborhood’s stilt houses commute via gondolas and canoes. Only one primary school that is built on land serves them. This school stands on marginal land that shifts and is subject to flooding, which can shut it down along with children’s access to education.

Construction began in September 2012 and finished in March 2013. Both the United Nations Development Program and Germany’s Heinrich Boell Foundation supported the project.

For his pioneering work, the firm’s principal, Kunlé Adeyemi, made this year’s Public Interest Design 100 list.

All images courtesy NLÉ.

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    More on the Makoko Floating School on uncube magazine issue no: 17: Construct Africa http://bit.ly/1cTYm9L
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