• African Water Cities
    Kunlé Adeyemi
    Suzanne Lettieri and Berend Strijland
    NAi010, 2023
    Kunlé Adeyemi & Suzanne Lettieri

Kunlé Adeyemi and Suzanne Lettieri, Water and the City, 2017. Courtesy of the authors.

African Water Cities is a comprehensive publication documenting parts of the ongoing research project  initiated by architect, designer, and urbanist Kunlé Adeyemi, in 2011. This research conducted by Adeyemi's practice, NLÉ, explores the impacts of urbanization, housing shortages, scarce resources, and climate change in African cities and communities on or along water. The research reveals such facts as that the fastest economic and population growing African cities are also some of the most vulnerable to climate change. On this premise, African Water Cities continued in studios led by Adeyemi and Lettieri at Cornell University's College of Architecture, Art and Planning with various local partners, focused on Dar el Salaam, Tanzania and Lagos, Nigeria in 2014–15. By conducting macro-scale investigations at the convergence of rapid urbanization and climate change, the research tackles social, economic, and environmental challenges and opportunities that shape the development of these cities and neighbouring communities. The overarching aim of African Water Cities is to identify and bridge critical gaps in infrastructure to stimulate sustainable developments, and provide alternative methods of thinking, building, and living on and by water.

Kunlé Adeyemi is an architect, designer, and urban researcher. He is the founder/principal of NLÉ and Aga Khan Design Critic in Architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. His notable works include Makoko Floating School, an innovative prototype floating structure located on the lagoon heart of Lagos, Nigeria. This acclaimed project is part of an extensive research project, African Water Cities, developed by NLÉ, an architecture, design, and urbanism practice founded by Adeyemi in 2010, with a focus on developing cities and communities. NLÉ recently launched MFS III—a new, improved iteration of Makoko Floating School—at this year’s la Biennale di Venezia, for which it was awarded the Silver Lion. Other projects include Chicoco Radio Media Center, an amphibious community building in Port Harcourt, Nigeria; ROCK Lakefront Kiosk in Chicago; the CDL Head Office in Lagos, Nigeria; and the Serpentine Summer House at the Royal Kensington Gardens in London.

Suzanne Lettieri is a designer and educator, who works on interdisciplinary projects at a range of scales, and seeks to bridge the disciplinary gap between aesthetics and socially responsible design. She is an assistant professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, previously served as the 2016–18 Michigan-Mellon Design Fellow in Egalitarianism and the Metropolis at the University of Michigan, and was also a visiting critic at Cornell University. Lettieri received her MArch from Cornell University where she received the Richmond Harold Shreve Award for best thesis project and Eschweiler Prize for exceptional ability in architecture design studio. She received her BFA from the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she was awarded a thesis prize for her undergraduate interior design thesis. Currently she is the coprincipal of JE-LE, an independent design, and research practice. She worked at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, CODA, and Biber Architects. As project leader with CODA, she guided the design and construction of Party Wall, the winning entry for the 2013 Young Architects Program at MoMA PS1. Her work has been exhibited in New York, Detroit, Boston, and Venice and published in Project, The Cornell Journal of Architecture, The Plan Journal, and Plat Journal.