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Makoko Floating School: dead in the water?

| September 5, 2013 | 0 Comments

A brand new school, described as an example of how architectural design is adapting to changing global weather patterns, is already under threat of closure by the Nigerian government. Makoko Floating School opened earlier this year in the overcrowded coastal Makoko slum area of Lagos, which is home to about 250 000 people, who rely on fishing in the polluted waters as a primary means of income. Climate change has caused perennial flooding in Makoko, and renowned architect Kunle Adeyemi decided to improve on the traditional stilt-house model to revamp the onl y primary school that ser ves this waterside settlement, Whayinna Primary School. With support from the residents of the Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront community and the Yaba Local Council Development Area, the Heinrich Bӧll Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme, Adeyemi designed a triangular A-frame threestoried structure, constructed of locally sourced bamboo floating on 256 plastic drums. The entire project cost only US$6 250.

The first level is an open play area for breaks and school assemblies, which also serves as a community space after school hours. The second level is an enclosed space for two to four classrooms, providing enough space for 60 to 100 pupils. The classrooms are partially enclosed with adjustable louvred slats for natural ventilation, and are surrounded by green play spaces. A staircase on the side connects the open play area, classrooms and semi-enclosed workshop on the third level. NLE, Adeyemi’s firm, has also installed solar photovoltaic cells to the school’s roof, and designed a rainwater catchment system to assist with water storage and sewage treatment. And, of course, the school epitomises low-carbon transport.

The Lagos state government has decreed that it will demolish the entire slum area of Makoko, adding that the newly built school is an illegal structure. But, says Adeyemi, such constructions could be the beginning of a trend followed throughout coastal Africa. “The building can be adapted for other uses, such as homes or hospitals. U ltimately, it ’s a vision that can be used to sustainably develop [African] coastal communities.” More than seven million children in Nigeria are depr ived of the chance to receive education due to poverty, according to the Nigerian Ministry of Education.

Category: Spring 2013

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