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Ni inu ikoko dudu ni eko funfun ti n jade (it is from the blackened pot that the white pap is made). This proverb from the Yoruba culture, when translated, means that beauty is mostly derived from ugly places. This seems to be the story of the three-storied (excuse the pun) school that floats on water in the Lagos Lagoon around Makoko – an area that is stereotypical of what constitutes a slum.

In spite of this, the three-storied structure buoyed by recycled barrels in the fishing village has earned nomination, for the Design of the Year Award 2014, which is overseen by the London Design Museum. Seventy-five other designs were nominated for the same award.


Makoko is a community on the waterfront of Lagos, Nigeria. Majority of its residents are fishermen who live in houses built on stilts. With support from the United Nations Development Fund, Kunlé Adeyemi, a Nigerian architect, designed the floating school on 256 recycled plastic barrels. The floating school accommodates about 100 children who commute to and from the school in wooden canoes. After class hours, the lower platform of the structure serves as a shade for fishermen while they take naps or mend their nets in readiness for the next fishing trip. The school, along with the prestigious nomination, may attract further attention for calls to transform the community into a more habitable one. Perhaps, Architect Kunle Adeyemi’s work in the area might be a beacon to transform Makoko into Nigeria’s Venice. Makoko_approach-640x367  

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This article was first published on 12th February 2014

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