Makoko Floating School
Lagos, Nigeria

Some 80,000 people reside in Makoko, in a stilt settlement south of Lagos, built over water, served by only one English-speaking primary school on reclaimed land susceptible to flooding. The Floating School is a prototype structure whose main aim is to generate an alternative building system and urban culture for the populations of Africa’s coastal regions. The triangular A-frame or pyramid (10m high with a 10m x 10m base), built from locally sourced wood and bamboo and buoyed by recycled plastic barrels, is an ideal shape for tall floating objects on water. The structure has three levels: an open play area and community space; an enclosed space for two classrooms for 60 pupils, connected by stairs to the play area; and a semi-enclosed workshop space on a third level. It is scalable and adaptable for other uses, such as housing, health clinic, market, an entertainment centre or an infrastructure hub. The prototype’s versatile structure is a safe and economical floating triangular frame that allows flexibility for customisation and completion based on specific needs and capacities.

Source: Aga Khan Trust for Culture

Note: (3/29/2020) NLÉ received the Silver Lion at the 2016 Biennale di Venezia for an improved prototype of the structure.  The citation commended the project as "a powerful demonstration, be it in Lagos or in Venice, that architecture, at once iconic and pragmatic, can amplify the importance of education."1

Shortly after, the original structure collapsed in heavy rains.2

“Biennale Architettura 2016 2016 | Awards Of The Biennale Architettura 2016.” La Biennale Di Venezia. Accessed March 29, 2020a. Archived at

Esiebo, Andrew. 2016. “Does Makoko Floating School‘s Collapse Threaten The Whole Slum’s Future?” The Guardian. June 10, 2016. Archived at

Lagos, Nigeria
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Associated Names
Associated Collections
completion 2013
Design 2011-2012
Built area: 220 m²; total site area: 100 m²
Building Usages