Makoko is a neighbourhood across the 3rd Mainland Bridge located on the coast of mainland Lagos. A third of the community is built on stilts along the lagoon and the rest is on the land. The waterfront part of the community is largely harboured by the Egun people who migrated from Badagary and Republic of Benin and whose main occupation is fishing. In July 2012, the Lagos State government ordered that some of the stilts beyond the power-lines be brought down without proper notice. This led to the destruction of several stilts on the Iwaya/Makoko waterfront and many families were rendered homeless.
Established in the 19th century, much of Makoko rests in structures constructed on stilts above Lagos Lagoon. Makoko is a neighbouring community to Iwaya on the waterfront and Oko Baba. In July 2012, Lagos State government under the governorship of Babatunde Fashola ordered that the stilts on the Iwaya/Makoko waterfront be demolished and dozens of stilts were demolished within 72 hours of notice to the residents. Nearly 3,000 people lost their homes to the demolition exercise. Two months after the partial demolition, a Serac housing affiliate known as the Urban Spaces Innovation developed a regeneration plan for Makoko that would bring the community together with academics, non-profits, and international consultants. The plan was submitted to the Lagos State Ministry of Urban and Physical Planning in January 2014
Makoko is sometimes referred to as the “Venice of Africa”. Its population is considered to be 85,840; however, the area was not officially counted as part of the 2007 census and the population has been estimated to be much higher
The Urban Chaos
The Architectural Dream
Prior to the commencement of the project, the children of Makoko only had access to one primary school which was inadequate, built on reclaimed land and was frequently threatened by recurrent flooding. In 2013, a Nigerian architect, Kunlé Adeyemi of NLÉ proposed to transform the water slum status of the Makoko waterfront community to a floating island by creating a functional building prototype. He collaborated with Non-Governmental Organisations including Heinrich Böll Foundation, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Federal Ministry of Environment Africa Adaptation Programme, Yaba Local Council Development Area (LCDA) and Makoko waterfront community to execute the project
The Makoko floating school comprises alternative sustainable buildings and structures designed to adapt to the resident communities’ aquatic lifestyle. The floating school utilizes local materials such as bamboo, timber and resources to produce architecture that applies to the physical, social needs of people and reflects the culture of the community. Wood is used as the major material for the structure, support and finishing of school building. The form of the school building is a triangular A-Frame section with about 1,000-square-foot play area. The classrooms are located on the second tier and are partially enclosed with adjustable louvered slats. The classrooms are also surrounded by spatial public greenery. There is a playground below the classroom while the roof contains an additional open air classroom. The classroom spaces can be used for communal functions especially during out-of-school hours. Sustainable features include application of solar cells to the roof, rainwater catchment systems and composting toilets. The structure is also designed to use about 250 plastic barrels to float on the waters and be naturally ventilated and aerated. There are considerations to use the building prototype to provide additional infrastructure for the community including an entertainment center, a community hub and health clinics. The floating school design won the 2013 AR+D award for emerging architecture and was shortlisted for the London Design Museum’s 2014 Design of the Year award. It also received a nomination for the 2015 International Award for Public Art.
On June 7, 2016, the Makoko Floating school structure was adversely affected by heavy rain, and collapsed. No casualty was recorded as the students and teachers had relocated three months earlier due to safety concerns. An improvement on the building prototype will be used as replacement