The Floating Village of Ganvie: A Mannequin for Socio-Ecological Urbanism
Positioned within the southern a part of Benin-Republic, close to the port metropolis of Cotonou, is Ganvie; the most important floating village in Africa. It’s located in the midst of Lake Nokoué and is characterised by colourful wood stilt homes organized round synthetic islands relationship again to the seventeenth century.
This distinctive structure was born from the historical past of the Tofinu tribe, who constructed it as a refuge from the slave commerce. It has been sustained over time by their communal socio-ecological aquacultural programs and has now change into a world vacationer attraction for the nation. The village was acknowledged as a world cultural heritage website by UNESCO in 1996, attracting as much as 10,000 guests yearly. Nonetheless, this inflow of vacationers has impacted the locals and their socio-ecological practices that maintain this water atmosphere. Aquaculture has change into more and more difficult to keep up because the village struggles to retain its financial basis. Moreover, conventional constructing practices have given solution to trendy ones, and the village faces ongoing environmental challenges. However, the distinctive life-style of the locals across the water nonetheless gives many classes for the design of potential floating cities.
Ganvie was based by the Tofinu tribe, a inhabitants of West Africans expert in fishing, who was generally known as “watermen” and lived on the coast of Benin earlier than the seventeenth century. They moved their group into Lake Nokoué to guard themselves from the Fon tribe, who bought members of different tribes to Portuguese slave merchants.
Floating Cities of the Previous and Future
In keeping with their historical past, the choice to construct the village on the lake was not solely to behave as a bodily barrier however was additionally rooted in non secular beliefs. These beliefs prohibited the Fon tribe from attacking individuals on water because of its sacred nature and constructed a non secular basis for a way the Tofinu tribe associated to the lake. They created an city system that was delicate to the aquatic ecosystem, constructed buildings utilizing ephemeral supplies, employed aquaculture as a way of city planning, and named the village Ganvie, which suggests “we survived.”
The floating village is dwelling to about 45,000 individuals, dwelling in over 3,000 stilt buildings of varied varieties, together with homes, banks, eating places, markets, accommodations, colleges, and non secular areas. Residential homes principally make use of conventional strategies of wood stilts, whereas public buildings reminiscent of colleges and non secular areas are constructed with trendy strategies of concrete stilts and sandcrete blocks. The stilts of conventional homes are crafted with purple ebony wooden, which is proof against weathering, whereas the partitions are made with bamboo and palm fronds. The roofs are thatched or, extra lately, changed with corrugated steel sheets. These buildings are constructed and maintained for a lifespan of 15-20 years, making them ephemeral in nature. Locals go for supplies that decompose within the water ecosystem over time and should not have a destructive impression on it.
Furthermore, the stilt buildings have been designed to enhance an city plan consisting of small synthetic islands as city courtyards linking two or extra homes, in addition to massive water streets to permit straightforward motion by canoe throughout all components of the village. As Lake Nokoué is simply 1-2 meters deep, the group’s residents moved soil from the mainland to assemble these islands. Initially, they have been supposed as areas to show younger kids to stroll and as locations for domesticating animals, however they’ve since change into social areas that join households and concrete options that give the floating village a novel character.
As expert fishermen, the Tofinu tribe retained their delicate relationship with water by using aquaculture as an city system. The realm of floating stilts buildings is enclosed with designed fish paddocks and synthetic reefs that assist aquatic life maintain a wholesome relationship with the rising metropolis. The fish paddocks and reefs characterize an revolutionary aquaculture system the place mangroves are used to draw fish for rearing. Native mangrove species, reminiscent of palm fronds, are anchored into the lake mattress and are additional surrounded by bamboo sticks to kind cages. The mangroves decompose, creating plankton, whereas the wooden acts as a catalyst for algae development, attracting fish to feed and reside inside the atmosphere. This technique is named Acadja by the locals, and it’s reconstructed each two weeks because the fish are harvested, new mangroves are constructed, and the aquatic biodiversity of the town will increase.
As well as, the enclosure of those paddocks is designed to interrupt the currents from the Atlantic Ocean. This permits the stilt buildings inside the village to be spaced aside and supplies for broad water streets, that are an vital social factor within the village. These streets are broad sufficient to include a number of boats, permitting for transportation and the buying and selling of products throughout transferring canoes.
The stilt homes are additionally designed with terraces going through the road, which permit for social connection and transparency throughout the village. These revolutionary socio-ecological designs have been handed down by means of generations and use symbiotic species’ relationships with the lake to create sustainable city environments.
If one finds themselves inside the stilt buildings in Ganvie, they are going to discover that the water beneath is obvious and it’s straightforward to watch totally different fish species transferring by means of the village. The village feels open and there’s a robust sense of group.
This floating village has thrived for over 4 centuries by means of its domestically crafted city programs, incomes it the romanticized identify of the Venice of Africa. Nonetheless, the residents nonetheless face many challenges, primarily the dearth of correct sewage and waste administration programs. Conventional sewage programs straight transfer waste into the lake, which has change into ineffective and polluting for aquatic life because of the growing inhabitants of the village. Moreover, poverty is on the rise because the native fishing economic system competes with an inflated economic system generated externally from tourism income. These challenges are inflicting the floating village to steadily change into unable to help the approach to life of its native residents.
The story of Ganvie is one wherein structure is a product of a tradition that’s conscious of its environment, significantly Lake Nokoué. The village’s residents held a deep respect and take care of the lake, which influenced the design of their structure and concrete programs. The floating village’s city atmosphere was sustained utilizing revolutionary programs that have been rooted within the residents’ native occupation. This fostered a direct relationship between the individuals, their work, their life-style, and the village’s sustainability. Ganvie’s floating village serves as a mannequin not just for designing potential floating cities but additionally for approaching sustainability in structure.
This function is a part of an ArchDaily collection titled AD Narratives, the place we share the story behind a specific challenge, diving into its particularities. Each month, we discover new constructions from world wide, highlighting their story and the way they got here to be. We additionally speak to the architect, builders, and group, looking for to underline their private experiences. As at all times, at ArchDaily, we extremely admire the enter of our readers. If you happen to assume we must always function a sure challenge, please submit your solutions.