NLÉ Makoko Floating School
Makoko Floating School was a floating structure designed by NLÉ and several partners on the lagoon near Lagos. It was a prototype for urban coastal contexts that have no permanent infrastructure because of regular flooding. It has collapsed since, but NLÉ is working on the third iteration.
Makoko Floating School was a floating structure designed by NLÉ and several partners on the lagoon near Lagos as a prototype for proposing a new building typology for urban coastal contexts that have no permanent infrastructure because of regular flooding. In 2016 the school collapsed due to various reasons that NLE addresses in an FAQ document.
*Please note that building designs are being included as “products” in the Habitat Sector of the Solutions Library to allow readers to learn from how projects were designed and constructed and how they are serving the occupants, whether effective or ineffective.
Goal 11: Build more sustainable waterfront communities.
The building structure was prefabricated and assembled by local carpenters.
NLÉ worked in partnership with Makoko youths and community leaders, expert carpenters, and local and international collaborators in the planning and building of the project.
A second iteration of the first prototype is currently in development.
Indication of whether design can be replicated in multiple locations
Number of individuals. 1 family = 5 persons.
Number of days from start of construction to completion
Surface area of footprint
Number of occupiable floors (ground floor only = 1)
Primary materials used
Composite estimated R-value
As calculated by designer
As calculated by designer
Based upon primary structural system as per the International Building Code
Based upon Structural Occupancy Category and soil conditions of site; as per the International Building Code
List of suitable climates for use of this design
- Program: School, Community Building
- Area: 220 m2
- Construction: Timber structure on base made of plastic barrels.
NLÉ cites that they maintained it for the first two years and the repairs and maintenance were performed by carpenters and building team. In 2015 it was formally passed over to the Makoko Waterfront Community and NLÉ stepped back and took on an advisory role.
The prototype was designed with locally obtained materials so that people could potentially build similar structures and so that it would be easy to maintain. The MFS II prototype does not use local materials and so the replacement of components would require importing new parts.
The first prototype collapsed after only three years of use. NLÉ cites that the collapse was primarily due to deterioration from lack of management after the structure was formally passed into the care of the community. Media articles highlighted some disagreement among stakeholders over the cause and details of the collapse.
The Makoko Floating School aims to promote a new typology of floating building for coastal regions. The building was designed to allow for passive shade and ventilation, and to offer open space for play and community interactions.
The structure was monitored in its performance by NLÉ for the first two years.
NLE claims that the collapse of the Makoko Floating School was primarily due to deterioration and lack of maintenance after the structure had been handed over after two years of informal use and monitoring. An alternate perspective is from the headmaster who was quoted as saying that the school had only been open for a few months when he decided to relocate the students because he could see that the structure was not strong. The school was vacated about three months before the collapse and so no one was hurt.
The Makoko Floating school incorporated photo-voltaic panels on the roof and rainwater collection and storage.
Adeyemi K, Eisenschmidt A. 2012. African Water Cities. Architectural Design. 82(5): 98-101.
Ahmed JU, Ashikuzzaman NM, Nisha N. 2016. Understanding Operations of Floating Schools: A Case of Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha in Bangladesh. South Asian Journal of Business and Management Cases. 5(2): 221-233.
Bevan R. 2015. In the Pursuit of Pleasure: The Not so Fleeting Life of the Pavilion and its Ilk. Architectural design. 85(3): 16 -25
Lepik A, editor of compilation; Bainbridge S, author; Pepper I, translator; Schleussner L, translator. 2014. Afritecture : building social change. Technische Universität München. Architekturmuseum. Ostfildern : Hatje Cantz ; München : A.M., Architekturmuseum der TU München 2013.
Riise J, Adeyemi K. 2015. Case study: Makoko floating school. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. 13: 58-60.
NLÉ cites that there were no regulations in place that would prevent the construction of this structure, and that the government never sent notice for it to be dismantled. They also cite that after negotiations with the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, that in 2015 they acknowledged the project as a potential prototype for the redevelopment of Makoko.
This is counter to an article in the Vanguard from 2013 quoting the commissioner for waterfront and infrastructure development in Lagos, that the school was erected without the permission of the state government. In 2012 the government declared the Makoko settlement as illegal, and therefore some attribute the floating school as protecting and adding legitimacy to the community.
Evaluation methods include structural calculations and general monitoring of performance.
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