In the heart of the old Port Harcourt township, popularly called “town”, an innovative structure is changing the landscape. Chicoco Radio is an expression of creativity, like the animated series “Avatar”, blending air, land and water, with fire provided by passionate volunteers.
According to the designers, Netherlands-based architecture firm, NLE, “Chicoco Radio is a floating media platform being built for and with the residents of Port Harcourt’s waterfront community in Nigeria”. The project is the result of years of conceptualization and design stages that involved the local residents, getting input from the communities to ensure that their insights were incorporated into the plan.
Hundreds of thousands of low income residents live along Port Harcourt’s numerous creeks in settlements that tightly hug the waterfront. The state government through the administration of Rotimi Amaechi marked the numerous waterfronts for demolition and asked residents to evacuate. The demolition of two waterfront communities provided the inspiration for Chicoco Radio, a community radio station.
The imposing steel structure begins in the adjoining river and terminates in the air above land, with the radio tower standing tall above the buildings in the community. At the river side, the structure floats, allowing it to adjust to changing tides and avoid flooding. This floating end serves as a stage and a jetty for boats and canoes to dock. The cantilevered structure is supported by the station’s radio antenna. An expansive floor plate with large interconnected trusses provides stability for this eye-popping structure. A looming movie screen would provide entertainment for occupants of boats moored around the structure, and people inside the structure.
Dubbed a “bridge to transformation”, this hub of creativity contains a radio station (Chicoco Radio), recording studios, a computer centre, meeting rooms, and amphitheatre and a cinema. All these inside the beautifully crafted structure. The backers plan for this structure to serve as a community centre, helping to bring communities together and provide a voice for the hitherto voiceless.
On the environmental side, locally available materials are the basis for the structure. The design also includes renewable energy systems, a helpful provision for communities that bear the brunt of Nigeria’s oil production activities. Dependence on renewable energy would also ensure that when in operation, transmission activities and other activities in the building would not be interrupted by Nigeria’s epileptic power supply, nor be forced to expend considerable sums on fossil fuels for backup generators.
CMAP Human City Project is collaborating with NLE for the Chicoco Radio project, which as a part of NLE’s African Water Cities project would further “investigate the challenges and opportunities at the intersections of rapid urbanization and climate change in African coastal cities and waterfront communities”.
[All images ©NLE]
Written by Jonah Ibiamagabara