Lagos, Nigeria, slum-sits on sinking ground

Written by Gisela Waldner, CNN Birds began singing, the stars began shining and the moon began to put out its own light — but the waters were already moving inland. The Niger Delta area…

Lagos, Nigeria, slum-sits on sinking ground

Written by Gisela Waldner, CNN

Birds began singing, the stars began shining and the moon began to put out its own light — but the waters were already moving inland.

The Niger Delta area of Nigeria is sinking, and despite being located about 1,500 kilometers (950 miles) southwest of the capital Abuja, Lagos City is right at the center of the problem.

Heading out from the city center, there is virtually no land left: The enormous metropolis’ designated areas on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean are slowly and inexorably subsiding.

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Although this has been going on for many years — the infamous historical sinking of Lagos took place in the second half of the 19th century — this year is being seen as the tipping point.

As a reminder, Lagos had originally begun sinking in the 13th century. According to anthropologist Andrés Rosell, a former colonial army captain, the process, while not unusual, has been slowed in recent decades because of factors including plentiful oil reserves and a worldwide increase in beachfront development.

According to forensic geologist Victor Dastrup, who is in charge of the hydrogeological department at the Lagos State Geological Survey Board, only during the last 20 years has the trend accelerated and become more difficult to control.

“However,” he adds, “almost all the fault lines were sealed by 1943, mostly with sand, after the destruction of 40 seafloor communities by the ocean, which has allowed the sinking to continue steadily.”

Now residents and architects are increasingly demanding that the city and its other structures are closed off and relocated inland.

“This move is based on a development expert’s theory that if you freeze the underlying geological parameters of Lagos and build a wall around it, you have the opportunity to halt the trend in the near future,” says Malu Obodo, an architect who founded the Thrive Movement and helped develop the internationally acclaimed sustainable residential project in Ajegunle.

Ocean City © Jorge Goriez, courtesy Photographer Jorge Goriez

Justifying the massive investment required for such a solution, Obodo is quick to point out that Lagosians are no longer prepared to sit by and hope for the best when it comes to their own homes, neighborhoods and common spaces.

1 / 5 – Palma, Mallorca, Spain A terrace perched on one side of a cliff, the windows of the two-story house combined with the arched wooden lattice creates the illusion of a shapely building. Bar codes are printed directly onto the inside of a tile and a large, domed roof supports the living room. Photographer Jorge Goriez traveled across Central Spain this year to show some of the best architecture from this region.

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