NLÉ architects presents makoko floating school
NLÉ architects presents makoko floating school NLÉ architects presents makoko floating school
mar 04, 2013

NLÉ architects presents makoko floating school

in a geographically changing world where water levels are steadily rising, many coastal and waterfront communities are finding themselves inundated with the problem of adaptive housing solutions that withstand swelling tides and swift currents. flood-proof schemes are floating around most commonly implementing various stilt systems to elevate the structure above predetermined water lines,  but even this solution becomes static at a certain point. NLÉ architects has been working on a three-phase plan for the waterfront community of makoko in lagos, nigeria that will transform the already buoyant city into a contemporary community on the water’s surface with independent floating structures made of local materials applied in new ways.

NLE architects makoko floating school designboom
the timber structure on the lagos, nigeria waterfront
image © iwan baan | main image © NLÉ architects



phase one of the project involves the realization of the ‘makoko floating school,’ a triangular form in section constructed with a parallel series of timber A-frames on a platform supported by emptied blue barrels. the three-storey structure contains classrooms on the middle level in enclosed volumes flanked by public green space and playground below, and an additional open-air rooftop classroom above. rooftop PV cells on the roof collect solar energy, coupled with water catchment systems make the dynamic educational facility partially self sustainable. slender wooden slats create a shading device along the outer envelope along with well ventilated spaces to maintain a comfortable interior environment.

NLE architects makoko floating school designboom
an aerial view of the floating school
image © iwan baan



phase two includes the construction of floating housing units that can be interlocked or float independently. following the same aesthetic and functional principles as the school, the houses will also contain a state-of-the-art device designed by japanese company air danshin systems inc that detects certain movements (such as earthquake tremors) and activated a compressor that pumps air into a chamber below the structure so that the dwellings may navigate safely over a flood plain. the final phase will see the creation of an entire floating community fully equipped to deal with flooding problems while maintaining an improved quality of life. scheduled for completion for the end of 2014, the master plan is expected to mark a new wave in resilient architecture in high-water zones.

NLE architects makoko floating school designboom
lookout from the interior
image © iwan baan

makoko floating school designboom
‘makoko floating school’ in its lagos, nigeria waterfront context
image © NLÉ architects

makoko floating school designboom
rendering of the project’s potential expansion
image © NLÉ architects


kunlé adeyemi of NLÉ architects discuses the ‘makoko floating school’ project
video courtesy of daryl mulvihill

the school before roof construction
image © NLÉ architects

classroom construction
image © NLÉ architects

primary structural frame
image © NLÉ architects

community involvement in construction
image © NLÉ architects

local labor and materials
image © NLÉ architects

image © NLÉ architects

building the first level
image © NLÉ architects

image © NLÉ architects

completed floating foundation
image © NLÉ architects

image © NLÉ architects

construction of floating base prototype
image © NLÉ architects

acquisition of local material
image © NLÉ architects

makoko floating school designboom aerial view of the waterfront community in lagos
image © NLÉ architects

makoko floating school designboom phase 2 plan
image © NLÉ architects

sustainable strategies
image © NLÉ architects

master plan diagram
image © NLÉ architects


kunlé adeyemi: we are living in interesting times in africa
video courtesy of design indaba




update: NLÉ architects’s ‘makoko floating school’ has been presented at the 2014 design indaba expo under theme of ‘africa is urban‘ (one of five major topics explored at the event), which investigates the growth and development of africa’s megacities. the architectural project was featured within the expo’s ‘africa is now’ exhibition that offered a snapshot of creative work being produced across the continent.


design indaba expo 2014

the annual design indaba expo is south africa’s premier showcase of high-end design, exhibiting the homegrown wares of all the creative sectors under one roof.

  • What a fascinating project. It reminds me of similar work by the Metabolists architects in Japan during the 1950s and 60s as they tried to address Japan’s land crunch. To learn more about them I would suggest Ren Koolhaas’s book “Project Japan: Metabolism Speaks.”

    Logan Bingle says:
  • float

    F J Lemon says:
  • Sign of the tides – very exciting project

    Kofi Duncan, Las Gidi says:
  • This is awesome!!!

    Leeya says:
  • This is fascinating well done NLE. I attended an Exhibition early in 2011 where a young architect presented an extensive study carried out on Makoko exploring the very ideology shown here. Its great to see the idea as a reality. I don’t remember it being NLE but non the less it is great to see it executed! Exciting times for Nigerian architecture.

    Chinny says:
  • Pure Evolution…..

    Jacquie Aki says:
  • Pure Evolution……………

    Jacquieaki Aki says:
  • Very compelling. I do wonder about waste systems though, and how that might be handled in an aquatic environment.

    Luke says:
  • This is pretty awesome. Great work! There are quite a few marvelous structures built around the world. I have also tried compiling a list of some of the most unusual buildings here

    Chandan Yadav says:
  • Great idea . Maybe you can think of a sustainable aquatic informal city.

    Tikan says:
  • OMG! I grew up in this area and have always been fascinated by the floating community…this is awesome project!!!!

    Chinny S says:

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