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The Boston Globe

Ideas

Brainiac

Should cities float?

And more recent highlights from the Ideas blog

Over the last couple months, winter storms have lashed the Massachusetts coastline, leading to flooding in Boston and drastic property losses in coastal areas like Plum Island. Should we respond by moving entire towns? Fortifying them against the water?

Last week the Harvard Gazette ran a story about a Nigerian architect with a different idea: float them. On March 7, Kunlé Adeyemi spoke at Harvard about his “African Water Cities Project,” which might sound like science fiction, but is already underway. In Lagos, which sits flush with the Gulf of Guinea atop swampy terrain, Adeyemi is in the early stages of building a modular, floating city inspired by makeshift dwellings used in a swampy slum neighborhood called Makoko. In Makoko, as Adeyemi told the Gazette, residents row to market and travel by gondolas between each other’s houses, which are built on stilts. Adeyemi wants to formalize the bootstrap innovations found in Makoko; his prototype structure, which was dedicated earlier this year, is the Makoko Floating School, a three-story, 720-square-foot building built from wood and bamboo that floats atop recycled barrels.

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