Kunlé Adeyemi: Living on Water

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Kunlé Adeyemi: Living on Water from Louisiana Channel on Vimeo.

Step inside the world of Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi – praised for his ability to build innovative architecture on water. He here argues that architecture must respond to the changing environmental conditions and growth of population.

“It’s not about floating architecture, that’s really not what my practice is focused on.” The relationship between water and the city – between water and people – is essential. Adeyemi’s practice recognizes that with the changing environment, the presence of water will only increase: “We are just starting to brace ourselves and learn how to live with water as opposed to fighting it.” Building on water has its challenges, but also many opportunities to explore: “Water is a much more unstable form to inhabit. At the same time it allows a much more fluid ground condition.”
Adeyemi, who feels lucky to have experienced different parts of the world, is inspired by and wants to learn from the environment, keeping in mind and respecting the difference between building in e.g. Chicago and Makoko: “For both, we are constantly trying to ensure that the solution comes from the environment. The materials are local, so they belong there, and at the same time they add to the conditions there.”

Architecture always starts with people. For this reason, Adeyemi furthermore aims to have his architecture address the social aspects of living: “It’s about the experience that you generate, or you create or you curate with people and for people – and hopefully by people.” People need to be in an environment that not only shelters them, but also motivates and empowers them. An example of this is Adeyemi’s project ‘Makoko Floating School’, where the school itself represents an educational idea about living on water.

Kunlé Adeyemi was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in June 2015 in connection to the exhibition ‘AFRICA – Architecture, Culture and Identity.’