Swiss architects’ neighbourhood hotspots pilot new Makoko-Iwaya regeneration plan 

Makoko-hotspot

An illustration of the proposed Neighbourhood Hotspot

A FRESH initiative that will bring succor and new lease of life to the Makoko-Iwaya Waterfront Community in Lagos has been unveiled, which may become a global example of sustainable and flood-resilient lifestyle.

Under the proposed regeneration plan, a network of shared facilities called “Neighborhood Hotspots” would provide flexible decentralised infrastructure that creates a better neighbourhood and new job opportunities.

Promoted by a Swiss urban design and planning practice, Fabulous Urban in collaboration with Centre for Understanding Sustainable Practice at Robert Gordon University Aberdeen, Heinrich Böll Foundation Nigeria, and Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC), the initiative consists of comprehensive people centered development framework.

Supported by a working group with members of the communities, professionals, academicians and human rights organizations, Fabulous Urban developed the concept of “Decentralized Neighborhood Hotspots” powered by biogas facilities, which offer a wide range of micro-entrepreneurial opportunities for a resource-based economy.

One of the major objectives is ensuring participation and community ownership in the formulation, implementation and sustainability of the plan. It looks at all facets of life and development in Makoko-Iwaya Waterfront including land use, housing, tourism opportunities, tenure security, funding strategies and an institutional framework for implementation and management.

“The idea of the regeneration plan centres on the assumption that upgrading of infrastructure and the transformation of the communities can only succeed if its residents are empowered to contribute with their own funds,” according to the principal, Fabulous Urban, Fabienne Hoelzel.

He said: “The income will be sufficient to pay each worker an appropriate salary and still save money in a fund for the general maintenance of the facility so that it can be self-sustainable.

“The operation of the Neighborhood Hotspots is provided by a biogas cooperative.

The cooperative pays each worker the same monthly salary of 18,000 Naira (minimum wage). The rest will be saved in a fund for reinvestment and maintenance.

“We believe that Makoko could become a worldwide showcase for a sustainable and flood-resilient lifestyle and way of construction.

We further suggest completing it with flexible, low-cost, low-tech, and flood-resilient infrastructure, which in addition will create jobs and initiate a new resource based micro-economy, providing waste management and renewable energy.”

The suggested infrastructure will be highly flexible according to the needs, low-cost and ready to implement immediately, resistant against floods and increasing water level: no vulnerable wired and pipe system; provide new jobs and income and initiate a new local network economy; provide electricity to the entire community, support social activities and provide new basic medical services; environment-friendly due to decentralized energy plants and closed-loop cycles.

The Makoko-Iwaya Waterfront regeneration plan is a concept of decentralised ‘Neighbourhood Hotspots’, if implemented, could turn Makoko/Iwaya community into a worldwide showcase of a sustainable and flood-resilient lifestyle.

Hoelze explained, “We suggest an entirely new waterfront experience with wetlands, trees and plants, fishponds and community gardens.

The retrofitted waterfront with wetlands can become a new green leisure and recreational space for entire Lagos.” Speaking at a one-day urban talk in Lagos recently, Monica Umunna said that Heinrich Böll Foundation runs the Megacity programme from a liaison office in Lagos.

Cutting across all projects, partners emphasise the need to include Lagos citizens in urban planning and implementation processes at the local and State government level. “

Our aim is to offer a discussion platform where ideas for a sustainable and equitable Lagos can emerge – so that Lagos would be called not only the biggest but also one of the most liveable cities in Africa.”

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