Makoko Floating School

This Floating School in Nigeria is Pioneering Sustainable Development of Coastal Cities

Makoko Floating School

For NLÉ, an architecture, design and urbanism practice for developing cities, the “˜home’ is much more than walls, floors and ceilings; it refers to the fundamental building blocks of a city, to everyday life and the uses of public space in the emerging and endlessly complex urbanisms of the so-called developing worlds.

Founded by Kunlé Adeyemi, an architect, designer and urban researcher born and raised in Nigeria, the NLÉ works to shape and advance architecture to meet the needs of an overpopulated world facing serious economical and environmental challenges.

Among the organization’s innovative initiatives is the Makoko Floating School, a pilot project to pioneer the development of coastal African cities. Most buildings in Makoko, a slum located in Lagos, Nigeria, are poorly constructed on stilts above the Lagos Lagoon leaving them susceptible to flooding. The only form of transportation is by canoe.

“Although overall living conditions are very poor and modern infrastructure is not available, the people of Makoko’s adaptation to their environment offers valuable insights for addressing the imminent challenges of rapid urbanization and climate change in coastal cities. Within Makoko a nursery and primary school facility is built, not even on stilts, but on reclaimed land. The consequences are uneven settlements and recurrent flooding of the school building, which hinders children’s access to their basic need – the opportunity to an education. The last flooding occurred in October 2012.  In response to this, we propose to develop a Floating School for the community. This school will meet the immediate needs of the community whilst providing a new building that can adapt to the imminent impact of climate change. Our proposal of a floating building addresses different issues regarding flooding, poor building structures and land titles. The project will also provide a flexible multi-use space which can be used outside of school hours by the entire community for a range of purposes,” reports the NLÉ.

The prototype was designed to be self-sustaining — the school is solar powered and has a rainwater harvesting feature to operate toilets —  and adaptable for other building typologies including homes, community centers and even playgrounds.  The hope is that this project will be the catalyst for alleviating poverty through local employment and addressing the challenges of climate change, urbanization and the growing need for flexible and adaptable infrastructures in water communities around the world.


Makoko Floating Schoo Spine

Makoko Floating School- Community

Makoko School

Makoko Slum Transportation

Makoko Slum



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