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  1. ArchDaily
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  3. A Deep Dive Into the Sad Story of the Makoko Floating School

A Deep Dive Into the Sad Story of the Makoko Floating School

A Deep Dive Into the Sad Story of the Makoko Floating School
© NLÉ architects
© NLÉ architects

Within a week of its successor being awarded the Silver Lion at the 2016 Venice Biennale, the original Makoko Floating School collapsed. Designed by Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi of NLÉ Architects, the school was located in the Lagos Lagoon in Nigeria. Now, almost two years later, Lagos-based writer Allyn Gaestel has investigated the vulnerable coastal community and architect behind the project in a remarkable narrative nonfiction piece, "Things Fall Apart."

via NAIJ.com
via NAIJ.com

Is the story of Makoko Floating School one of a noble architect’s attempt to do good or a growing ego in search of fame? As Gaestel writes, “Heroes and villains are rarely pure.”

© NLÉ architects
© NLÉ architects

Gaestel details the complex moving parts and characters embedded in Makoko Floating School. In the beginning, Adeyemi collaborated with Isi Etomi, a young architect and native Lagosian who compiled a two-volume proposal outlining realistic ways to upgrade the financially distressed neighborhood. As Adeyemi’s excitement to create a school on water grew, so did the budget. Eventually, Etomi stepped away from the venture, and so did the funding. But Adeyemi only seemed to work harder—even when police raided Makoko on speedboats, cutting homes down with chainsaws in a violent eviction process. Adeyemi’s role became one of not only architect but advocate for the people of Makoko as well. Finally, the school was completed and left under the care of Noah Shemede, the Makoko liaison and school director.

The second incarnation of the Makoko Floating School in Venice, which won the Silver Lion at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu
The second incarnation of the Makoko Floating School in Venice, which won the Silver Lion at the 2016 Venice Biennale. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu

Gaestel brings to light that while Makoko Floating School was being internationally praised for its resilient and humanitarian spirit, the school only held actual classes for about four months in its three-year lifespan. Some architects still consider the structure a worthy prototype for future innovations, but, before its collapse, the residents of Makoko saw it as much more than that. At times, the school, and subsequent national attention, represented a true beacon of hope to what is still an unstable community. Ultimately, as Gaestel's article makes clear, the story of Makoko Floating School isn't easily boiled down. 

Read the full story at The Atavist Magazine, here.

NLÉ's Makoko Floating School Reportedly Collapses Due to Heavy Rain

Cite: Lindsey Leardi. "A Deep Dive Into the Sad Story of the Makoko Floating School" 26 Mar 2018. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/890330/a-deep-dive-into-the-sad-story-of-the-makoko-floating-school/> ISSN 0719-8884
© NLÉ architects

反思尼日利亚‘漂浮学校’坍塌事件,建筑师的‘善举’能否真正让社区得益?