Exhibitions

WATERFRONT Atlas / NLÉ

WATERFRONT Atlas – Description of NLÉ.

15th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia

May 28 – November 27 2016

WATERFRONT Atlas is a collaborative knowledge platform that brings the local intelligence of aquatic communities like Makoko, Lagos to the world at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition — La Biennale di Venezia curated by Alejandro Aravena.

Over 70% of the world’s major cities and capitals are located by water. By 2050, it is also estimated that over 70% of the world’s population will be urbanized, bringing the vast majority of humanity to waterfront regions. Much of this population is and continues to be constituted by informal communities with limited infrastructure and access to resources. At the same time, these communities also remain vulnerable to the adverse impact of climate change such as rising sea levels and flooding. These conditions have fostered a culture of resilience, adaptivity and resourcefulness in the people of such communities.

WATERFRONT Atlas
Courtesy of NLÉ

WATERFRONT Atlas aims to identify, gather and cultivate the intelligence of communities and cities by water. Its motivation is to bridge inequality by improving social, economic and environmental conditions worldwide. It is an opportunity for us to think, build, and live differently, by facing the challenges in this age of rapid urbanisation and climate change.

WATERFRONT Atlas is exhibited within MFS II, an improved, prefabricated and industrialised iteration of Makoko Floating School at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Just as our first prototype sourced local intelligence from the Makoko waterfront community, MFS II is an improved iteration designed to suit Venetian conditions and a wider waterfront population. Adapted for easy prefabrication and rapid assembly, it is more robustly engineered and affords a wide range of uses. MFS II was assembled in 10 days by 4 builders. It is mobile, deployable, and ready to be reassembled at its next Waterfront.

WATERFRONT Atlas
Courtesy of NLÉ

LEARNING FROM MAKOKO

Makoko is a historic community on water, located on the lagoon heart of Africa’s most populous city: Lagos, Nigeria. It is a highly dense and urbanised area, yet it has almost no ‘roads’, no land, and no modern infrastructure. Its inhabitants build wooden houses on stilts and transportation is mainly by canoe. Despite being an informal settlement with very poor living conditions, the Makoko/Iwaya waterfront region has thrived on its fishing and sawing industries for nearly 100 years, providing over one third of Lagos’ fish supply and most of its timber. It is estimated that nearly 100,000 people call the Makoko/Iwaya waterfront community home. Using local materials and building techniques, the people of Makoko have adapted and developed ways of building and living on water with very minimal means. The community offers valuable insights for addressing the pressing challenges and opportunities of rapid urbanisation and climate change. Such challenges include rising sea levels and increased rainfall and flooding, which are becoming day-to-day realities for the people of Lagos and other waterfront cities and communities. Makoko represents just one of thousands of water-based communities worldwide.

Inspired by Makoko in 2011 and working in close collaboration with the community alongside other partners, NLÉ completed the ‘Makoko Floating School’ in 2013— a floating prototype structure for living on water. Makoko Floating School is a catalyst and knowledge platform. It is just one of the many potential architectural, infrastructural and urban solutions for the collective development and inclusive urban regeneration of both Makoko and other waterfront communities around the world.

10 DAYS

4 BUILDERS

15 TONS OF WOOD

1 TON OF METAL

256 PLASTIC BARRELS

220M2 ON THREE FLOORS

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