A feat of elegant design wowed elite architects and promised to bring education to poor children in Nigeria. Then it collapsed.

A feat of elegant design wowed elite architects and promised to bring education to poor children in Nigeria. Then it collapsed.

News from the Web

Kunlé Adeyemi hustled across the ballroom in Venice, Italy, with a wide smile on his face. He wore a tailored tunic and pants—classic Nigerian menswear—cut from glossy brown fabric. The staid crowd that had gathered to witness his coronation applauded politely as he beckoned his team to join him on stage. There Adeyemi embraced each member of the jury that had named him the victor and seized his prize: the Silver Lion, awarded to a “promising young participant” in the International Architecture Exhibition, better known among the global design elite as the Venice Biennale.

It was May 2016, and the Biennale’s theme was “reporting from the front.” To curator Alejandro Aravena, “the front” encompassed spaces both literal and figurative. Aravena was the most recent recipient of his field’s top honor, the Pritzker Prize, and he designed buildings that prioritized public interest and social impact. He wanted his Biennale to crack open assumptions about architecture by drawing on the talent, knowledge, and imagination of those bearing witness to the world’s most pressing problems. “We are not interested in architecture as the manifestation of a formal style,” Aravena said before the exhibition, “but rather as an instrument of self-government, of humanist civilization, and as a demonstration of the ability of humans to become masters of their own destinies.”

Adeyemi, at whom Aravena beamed with pride during the award ceremony, was one of the Biennale’s darlings. The 40-year-old Nigerian was given his prize for designing a school in Makoko, one of the largest slums in Lagos. Described by the Silver Lion jury as “at once iconic and pragmatic,” the school was meant to serve poor children whose neighborhood the government wanted to demolish. What made it singular was its location: The school floated on the water that envelops much of the coastal megacity. The structure suggested an alternative to tearing down slums to make way for development, a new approach for elevating instead of erasing the poor. Thanks to Adeyemi’s innovative design, the children of Makoko had a space in which to expand their minds and horizons.

In his acceptance speech, Adeyemi compared his project’s setting to the Biennale’s. “It’s said that the early settlers of Venice were fishermen in the marshy lagoons, not very different from the people of Makoko,” he said. “It’s a great honor to be standing here representing the intelligence of the people of Makoko as well as countless waterfront communities all over the world.” The crowd standing before him could see the Makoko Floating School for themselves: A replica, called MFS II, sat between brick arches and white Istrian columns in the Gaggiandre, a 16th-century Venetian dockyard. Built specifically for the Biennale, the structure included a buoyant platform, on top of which blond wood beams crisscrossed into triangles that formed a classic A-frame.

MFS II projected a sharply modern geometry onto the still surface of the ancient canal. To rapt Biennale participants, it also reflected the far-reaching potential of Adeyemi’s design. Built in ten days by four Italian woodworkers, MFS II had been “adapted for easy prefabrication, rapid assembly, and a wide range of uses,” according to the architect and his team. Inside the replica, Adeyemi hung maps of coastlines from around the world. Pushpins designated construction projects in “water cities,” the coastal metropolises likely to bear some of the most drastic impacts of climate change and rising sea levels. With the floating school, Adeyemi wanted to spark a conversation about how cities like Lagos can adapt to their shifting environments and set examples for sustainable design.

continue reading at Atavist.com




Back

 


search

 

 

Quantcast



Archives

May 2018 (11)
April 2018 (11)
March 2018 (12)
February 2018 (12)
January 2018 (18)
December 2017 (8)
November 2017 (15)
October 2017 (17)
September 2017 (14)
August 2017 (18)
July 2017 (10)
June 2017 (12)
May 2017 (12)
April 2017 (15)
March 2017 (15)
February 2017 (22)
January 2017 (13)
December 2016 (9)
November 2016 (14)
October 2016 (11)
September 2016 (19)
August 2016 (13)
July 2016 (11)
June 2016 (16)
May 2016 (19)
April 2016 (17)
March 2016 (9)
February 2016 (15)
January 2016 (14)
December 2015 (7)
November 2015 (15)
October 2015 (12)
September 2015 (5)
August 2015 (12)
July 2015 (16)
June 2015 (9)
May 2015 (15)
April 2015 (11)
March 2015 (16)
February 2015 (14)
January 2015 (14)
December 2014 (13)
November 2014 (15)
October 2014 (18)
September 2014 (14)
August 2014 (10)
July 2014 (14)
June 2014 (13)
May 2014 (22)
April 2014 (12)
March 2014 (12)
February 2014 (16)
January 2014 (19)
December 2013 (14)
November 2013 (175)
October 2013 (17)
September 2013 (20)
August 2013 (15)
July 2013 (6)
June 2013 (14)
May 2013 (17)
April 2013 (17)
March 2013 (16)
February 2013 (14)
January 2013 (16)
December 2012 (8)
November 2012 (20)
October 2012 (22)
September 2012 (17)
August 2012 (17)
July 2012 (22)
June 2012 (13)
May 2012 (20)
April 2012 (16)
March 2012 (28)
February 2012 (15)
January 2012 (17)
December 2011 (34)
November 2011 (24)
October 2011 (14)
September 2011 (39)
August 2011 (39)
July 2011 (35)
June 2011 (22)
May 2011 (22)
April 2011 (23)
March 2011 (18)
February 2011 (20)
January 2011 (37)
December 2010 (40)
November 2010 (41)
October 2010 (31)
September 2010 (96)
August 2010 (36)
July 2010 (35)
June 2010 (83)
May 2010 (167)
April 2010 (42)
March 2010 (68)
February 2010 (40)
January 2010 (66)
December 2009 (60)
November 2009 (38)
October 2009 (69)
September 2009 (66)
August 2009 (49)
July 2009 (55)
June 2009 (55)
May 2009 (65)
April 2009 (55)
March 2009 (68)
February 2009 (54)
January 2009 (62)
December 2008 (51)
November 2008 (43)
October 2008 (72)
September 2008 (89)
August 2008 (56)
July 2008 (77)
June 2008 (67)
May 2008 (65)
April 2008 (26)
March 2008 (22)