Architecture studio NLE created the Makoko Floating School in Lagos, Nigeria, as a prototype for building in parts of Africa that lack permanent infrastructure due to unpredictable water levels and frequent flooding. The community has no roads, land, or formal infrastructure. The floating structure serves as a school in the fishing village where 100,000 people live in houses built on stilts. The old primary school was often flooded.
The floating building can accommodate as many as 100 adults, even in strong winds. It was designed to serve primarily as a school, but it can also serve as an event space, clinic, or market. It was built with wood from a nearby sawmill and bamboo grown locally.
The school has a triangular design that allows it to remain stable on the water because of its low center of gravity. The 220-meter A-frame is 10 meters high and has a 10-meter-by-10-meter base. The school uses recycled empty plastic barrels to provide buoyancy. It contains three levels. The lower level is an area for play, the second level can be divided into up to four classrooms, and the top level contains a workshop. The levels are connected by a staircase on the side.
The floating school can adapt to tides and changing water levels, which helps it resist the effects of flooding and storm surges. It uses renewable energy, recycles organic waste, and harvests rainwater to limit its carbon footprint.
The school was initiated, designed, and built by NLE in a collaboration with the Makoko Waterfront Community. The Makoko Floating School is a prototype for NLE’s proposed Lagos Water Communities Project and its African Water Cities research project.