What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Nigeria? I couldn’t even pretend to guess, but I’d wager that you aren’t thinking about floating schoolhouses.
Well, believe it! Architect Kunle Adeyemi had a vision: he wanted to build a floating, self-sustaining school in Makoko, one of Nigeria’s poorest settlements. As if the troubled economy wasn’t already problematic enough for the people of Makoko, the region was also extremely susceptible to flooding. The region even earned the nickname “Africa’s Venice” to reflect that fact that inhabitants often have to hop in a boat in order to get around.
So, Adeyemi wanted to kill two birds with one stone by building a school that wouldn’t cost a penny to maintain, and that would remain high and dry during the flood seasons.
This floating school isn’t nearly as high-tech as it sounds. Adeyemi recycled plastic barrels to use as flotation and he built the schoolhouse out of local wood and other nearby materials. The only high-tech feature is the solar power system, which provides the students and teachers with more than enough electricity.
He also enlisted the aid of locals to build the project. Not only did it keep expenses down to ensure that the project was a success, but it also helped to establish a sense of ownership and camaraderie among the locals. This wasn’t just some random structure gifted upon the locals by a rich benefactor — it was made by locals and built out of local materials. Now that it’s complete, the school can host up to 100 students.
And this is just the beginning. The school serves as a pilot project to draw support for his grander vision. He hopes to build a massive floating town as part of the Lagos Water Communities Project. The program would provide cheap, sustainable housing to the poor community, all while protecting the inhabitants from the dangers of flooding.
This just goes to show that you can do wonders with very limited supplies. Using local wood and stone will give your aquascape a certain level of authenticity and uniqueness that you just wouldn’t be able to replicate if you use supplies from large distributors.
Adeyemi’s school also highlights the beauty of rustic artwork. Is his triangular schoolhouse elegant and classy? No, not precisely. But it nonetheless exhibits a rustic charm that reminds viewers of the beauty of the surrounding landscape. When the wood of your aquascape mirrors the wood of the nearby trees, and when the stone of your aquascape perfectly mimics the stone from the nearby mountains, you create a harmonious union of manmade artifice and natural terrain.
Don’t be afraid to take a page out of Adeyemi’s design book, especially if you’re considering adding an aquascape to a home that emphasizes natural materials.