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Nigerian Architect, Kunle Adeyemi Brings Hope to Makoko Slum with the Floating School Project

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Some days ago, BN brought to you a story on the harsh reality faced by thousands of families living on the murky waters of Makoko slum in Lagos. The story which was inspired by a UK Daily Mail feature highlighted the difficulties of families fighting for survival on a sea of festering filth. The pictures showed the terrible living conditions the families have to cope with. And to compound their problems, they live in fear of having their homes demolished.

But in the midst of this despair, an architect, Kunle Adeyemi hopes to bring some light. He plans to build a three-story school out of 16 floating platforms lashed together, capable of holding 100 students and teachers in the iconic slum.

Mr. Adeyemi who works both in Lagos and in Amsterdam, Holland told Sun Herald that the project involves building the platforms out of locally sourced wood and empty plastic drums, then using wooded beams to build a structure that would have a common area for children to play on as its base, with two floors for classrooms above it. The building would also include bathroom facilities, something lacking in a slum where most relieve themselves by hovering over the water.

“If the people don’t live here, they’ll live somewhere else. What we’re only trying to do is offer them a better solution,” he said.

The school project will cost about $6,250, Mr Adeyemi said and has received support from international groups and government officials. One of which is Heinrich Boell Stiftung which is partnering with Mr Adeyemi’s company NLÉ to make it a reality.

Curious to see what a floating school would look like, I visited the Heinrich Boell Stiftung website where I saw the confirmation of the partnership and a picture of the prototype of the floating school.

The Heinrich Boell Stiftung and its partner organisation NLE, led by the Nigerian architect Kunle Adeyemi, rather believe that people will cope better with the risks of erosion and flooding if they incorporate the water into their daily life instead of trying to dominate it. Just as the informal fishing community “Makoko”, located in the lagoon waters of Lagos, has been doing it for over hundred years: It is a community without any government support or infrastructure, the traditional authorities are responsible for the social organisation of the over 100,000 members. They live in wooden houses on stilt, transportation is by canoe only.

Although the people of Makoko have their own schools, it is ill-equipped. Mr Adeyemi hopes that the floating school project would make the area less of an eyesore and would rid it of the constant smell of smoke and decay.

One of my major concerns was the risk of rising water levels and its effect on the school. However, the architect noted that “Particularly in view of climate change, there’s a need to adapt buildings. We decided to use this as a prototype for developing something whether the water level rises or goes down, the building responds to that.”

It would be such a relief to have improved educational facilities at Makoko.

Photos of the current state of schools and education in Makoko

Photos of the proposed floating school at Makoko

Children playing on one of the platforms


Photo Credit: Heinrich Boell Stiftung

Adeola Adeyemo is a graduate of Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from University of Lagos. However, her passion is writing and she worked as a reporter with NEXT Newspaper. She believes that anything can be written about; anything can be a story depending on the angle it is seen from and the writer's imagination. When she is not writing news or feature articles, she slips into her fantasies and creates interesting fiction pieces. She blogs at www.deolascope.blogspot.com

36 Comments

  1. Omo Bolanile

    October 3, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Woww. God bless him. such a laudable effort

    • No way!

      October 3, 2012 at 5:09 pm

      Hmmn! I dont trust this project being in the middle of no where in the ocean! Abeg o! not the one the construction will start needing frequent servicing and repairs, as per knowing our naija product coupled with the fact that while at it, not all the little children there will be good swimmers and could potentially drown should any eventuality occur which is not unfounded in our typical naija senerio.

      It’s a no brainer!

    • Ginika

      October 4, 2012 at 1:24 pm

      From the design, it seems like the Architect took maintenance into consideration because it looks like it needs minimal maintenance. The problem will be over crowding and absue of the property.

      I do suggest that when this is built, the principal and staff of the school should be taken on a maintenance and safety course as well.

    • Tyler

      October 5, 2012 at 5:14 pm

      It looks! Not it is! our alot of our naija products look, but are they really what they look? ask yourself that

    • ayeni sunday

      February 1, 2013 at 4:51 am

      i don’t think u understand anything there, research the proposed school & sustainable architecture with sustainable (local) materials.

  2. Ayaba

    October 3, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Wow!!!!!! God bless this person & everyone taking part in it.

  3. csl

    October 3, 2012 at 11:24 am

    i luv dis guy already

  4. debdara

    October 3, 2012 at 11:31 am

    GOD bless him. Dint know Makoko is this Slummy

  5. Ms. Jayee

    October 3, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Nice concept but how sustainable will this be?

  6. opuingo

    October 3, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Nice!

  7. Ruth

    October 3, 2012 at 11:39 am

    May GOD bless you abundantly and give u the strength and resources to complete this project, amen

  8. sunflower

    October 3, 2012 at 11:43 am

    God bless you real good!!!!!!!

  9. Someone

    October 3, 2012 at 11:54 am

    God bless Ur heart

  10. lyndah

    October 3, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    nice project may God will reward u handsomely..

  11. Trendysturvs

    October 3, 2012 at 12:09 pm

  12. Traditionalbay

    October 3, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    There is hope for Naija. this is a step forward!

  13. X factor

    October 3, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Fantastic…

  14. Tola Ojuolape

    October 3, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    I have been a fan of Kunle’s way way back when he was with OMA before he set up NLE. An exceptional talent, one of Nigeria’s greatest exports.

  15. isaid!!

    October 3, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    God bless your heart kunle.I hope there is a way for us here at home o help as well. Well done!!

  16. Iphe

    October 3, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Hmmmm…u may say nice and innovative. I agree, but why don’t we solve the problem instead of creating means to live with it…God bless Nigeria.

  17. Dayo

    October 3, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Nice of Kunle and his good intentions, but in the 21st century we really should be looking at getting rid of slum settlements like Makoko down and providing citizens with decent basic housing.

    • jane

      October 4, 2012 at 3:09 pm

      i understand your point but we cannot take away their way of life from them because we see it as wrong. history has shown that cultural genocide has always had drastic consequences.If they dont live on this water,they will only find another surrounding water body to do so.Rather than taking them from what they know.why dont we give them a healthier and better solution while living on water line?

  18. Joshua

    October 3, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Now, that’s what i’m talking about! Thank u Kunle for putting your knowledge to good use. God bless you real good bro.

  19. konnie

    October 3, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Good luck and God bless you

  20. Iphie

    October 4, 2012 at 6:49 am

    Its very sustainable, remember that they are already live there.

  21. Ayodele

    October 4, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Wow! Talk about making a positive impact. Well done Kunle.

  22. neji joseph

    October 4, 2012 at 10:41 am

    God shall surely remember all those who have contributed and will contribute to the success of this project. Our children truly have a future

  23. Ginika

    October 4, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    I just pray that if the school is designed to hold 100 people (both adults and children), that one day it turns out that there are 400 people in that school, IT WILL JUST COLLAPSE!

    Normal schools in Naija that are on land, are over crowded speakless of this one. Anyway, it is a risk to consider. Another risk would be what if the level of the water increases? What if there is a flsh flood? I’m sure this is just a concept and a thorough risk analysis will follow afterwards.

    I wouldnt mind being part of the Professional team that will build this, it looks challenging and interesting.

  24. Ajoke

    October 4, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Awesome idea, love this. Good job, hope to see it come to pass

  25. Lulu

    October 4, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    The government of Nigeria is a disgrace …. A quarter of all the funds they’ve looted and still looting can be used to rebuild areas like this! These kids deserve better! Tnx Kunle for your efforts! ***If Only***

  26. 'Alex'andyRaH!

    October 4, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    wow! can’t wait to c d outcome

  27. Akande

    October 4, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    I commend him for trying to do something, however, my main issue with this design idea is the safety of the children. I don’t see any improvement in that area, as the kids will still be exposed to the same dangers they currently face. I think Lagosians should take a cue from this guy by doing something about this situation. I would start by petitioning the local/state government to relocate these people to temporary housing while they sand-fill this area. If they can do this in more affluent places like Lekki, then why not here? This will take care of a lot of the issues they currently face, such as safety and health problems

  28. Anon

    October 5, 2012 at 10:52 am

    I appreciate his efforts, but these people will still be exposed to the same problems and hardships. Just because they are used to this type of lifestyle doesn’t mean it has to be kept that way. For example, if a child is so used to not wearing clothes, used to stay on the street doesn’t mean he/she should be left to that type of harsh environment. I don’t know, slum has a lot of disadvantages to it. I’m not saying, they should completely rip them off their lifestyle but part of development of a town, city, state, country is getting rid of things that are hazardous to the people or the environment and building better ways to give them a better life.

  29. ronke

    October 16, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Hmmmm, it going to cost £6,275 to construct but the British Governement gave Nigeria £120m last year to help the poor, disadvantaged and the disabled, one wonders what happened to the money, the millions has probably gone into a private account in Europe of our greedy & corrupt politicans, civil servants charity consultants and useless NGO’S. The out-of-touch British government is going to increase the money to £140M next yr. God helps us.

  30. Arch student

    October 22, 2012 at 9:19 am

    So happy I came across this post, I’m a young female (Nigerian) Architecture student in England and I’m working on a project that has to do with sustainability in a small but growing community and it’s really inspiring knowing that Nigeria has started considering the issue of sustainability as part of design. Heard about Kunle Adeyemi and some of his works and he is definitely an Architect to watch out for in Nigeria. Can’t wait to return and work with him and other Nigerian Architects on energy efficient, sustainable and budget wise projects.

  31. ajayi gilbert

    May 20, 2015 at 9:20 am

    am an Archi Student from olabisi onabanjo university,Ogun state ,nigeria, I was told to write about famous architect in Nigeria and their work, but this work is too good to write an essay on. keep it up our dad,brother, uncle, and blood, I pray I can du such when am through with my edu

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