Makoko Floating School – Lagos, Nigeria - Atlas Obscura
Makoko Floating School is permanently closed.

Makoko Floating School

The innovative Nigerian floating school that may just be a glimpse into the future of design in a world of troubling climate changes. 


Every school day, close to 100 Nigerian children from the coastal city of Lagos head off in boats to a most unusual schoolhouse on the water.

The 3-storey, A-frame structure bobs on the waves of the lagoon that lines the waterfront slum of Makoko. A severely overcrowded water community that already hosts a stilted fishing village with a population in the tens of thousands, Makoko was an ideal location to test out this eco-friendly architectural model.

Designed by NLE Architects, the  Makoko Floating School is part of a “pilot project” that will unfold in a total of three phases, the school’s completion in 2014 marking the completion of phase one. The project is an attempt to tackle both Makoko’s specific needs and the urgency to provide sustainable living solutions as climate change continues to directly affect coastal communities at large. The goal? To create alternative, green building systems that can support rapid urbanization and adapt to climate-induced issues that could affect infrastructure. 

Already nominated for the Designs of the Year 2014 by the Design Museum in London, Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi’s floating school seems like a very promising option. The A-frame structure sits atop 256 recycled plastic barrels, and is made mostly of wood and local materials. Its triangular shape allows for several levels, its low center of gravity providing stability even in high winds.

The classroom is located on the 2nd tier, the roof providing an open air environment, and uses PV cells on the roof and a rainwater system to boost sustainability. The lower level is used as a playground while school is in session, and when school gets out for the day, it becomes a community space for village residents to fish and relax in the cool shade the naturally ventilated structure provides.Ideally, if “phase one’ shows itself to be a viable living option, communities like those in Lagos that are plagued by increasingly devastating floods and increased rainfall shouldl be able to retreat to the waters. The final stages of the project involve creating other community serving buildings and lashing them together-one beautiful, eco-friendly floating city on the ever-expanding waters of the Makoko lagoon.

 Update: The Makoko Floating School collapsed in 2016.

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