Beguiling images of the Makoko Floating School in Lagos, Nigeria, have been a ubiquitous presence on design blogs of late. But Lagos is not easy to get to, and here, Aravena has made it possible for the Biennale’s many visitors to explore this modest structure at first hand. He tapped Kunlé Adeyemi and his firm, NLÉ, to reconstruct the pavilion and dock it in the water basin of the Arsenale.
The quasi-pyramid forms three floors totaling 1,500 square feet that have been adapted as public space and as the venue for an exhibition, “Waterfront Atlas.” The second floor is enclosed with walls that are screen printed with the seven continents, pinned with postcards showing various existing aquatic projects. Blank cards, pencils, and pins sit on a table waiting for other architects to add to the map.
The exhilarating view from the top of the structure allows its wooden beams to frame the Venice skyline in new ways. One can easily imagine the structure serving various purposes, including, say, health care services, town hall meetings, or a community cafeteria.