Slums are defined as settlements made out of waste material which develop as a result of unplanned construction, usually on the outskirts of big cities in developing countries. They are a consequence of a massive transition of people, who move from the rural areas into the cities, in search of a better life.

Makoko is a slum on the water which is located in a lagoon in Lagos, the capital of Nigeria. It was established in the 18th century as a fishing settlement, but was later swallowed by the metropolis, becoming just a tiny part of it. Makoko is considered to have a population of 85,000 inhabitants, but the estimates go up to 250,000. The real number is unknown because the police rarely go into the slum, which means that the area is actually autonomous. The "law of the strongest" is instigated by the neighborhood guys, area boys or agberos, which are the gangs of kids who live in the street and mug passers-by, sell drugs and take care of its (un)safety. On the island of Lagos, in the lagoon where Makoko quarter is located, there are around a thousand of them and in the whole Lagos their number is estimated to be 35,000.

As the buildings in Makoko are constructed on wooden stilts, sometimes groups of houses just float away, which is also what happened to a local school. Kunle Adeyemi, a Nigerian-born architect who had a timely escape to the west, came up with a solution of a floating school.

The "foundation" of the school consists of 256 plastic barrels. A wooden construction with the surface of 100m2 is laid upon it, on top of which is a triangular construction. The work was funded by the UN and other donors and it was executed by Adeyemi's architectural firm NLÉ with some help from the experts from the Netherlands.

The authorities consider the construction illegal and demand for it to be removed. This might be because of the plans for the relocation of the whole slum of Makoko from the capital center which began in 2012. The negotiations are in process and NLÉ company believes that the government won't demolish the school.

Author of photos: Iwan Baan