Brooklyn based architect turned artist Olalekan Jeyifous imagines what Lagos, Nigeria could look like in the future in his series Shanty Megastructures. The images juxtapose sites of privileged and much coveted real-estate throughout Lagos with colossal vertical settlements, representing marginalized communities.
"I wanted to create something interesting that provides an alternative vision of the future on a continent and in a country that isn't depicted as much as it should be in sci-fi narratives," says Jeyifous.
In his vision, shanty mega structures tower over the city's luxury real-estate areas. Slums, particularly in Lagos, are frequently viewed as unsightly eyesores to be bulldozed, often to make way for luxury apartments, he explains.
"Lagos, as one of the fastest growing mega cities, is enormously fascinating and fertile ground for architects, and urban planners," says Jeyifous.
Many of his images feature Lagos Makoko Canal, the infamous floating slum. Population estimates range from 85,000 to 250,000.
"The dispossessed are given prominence and visibility, albeit through a somewhat dystopian vision that speaks to the fact that these communities often suffer from a lack of appropriate sanitation, electricity, medical services and modern communications," Jeyifous explains.
Jeyifous notes that when it comes to razing poor neighborhoods to make way for richer developments, Lagos is not unique. "It is a practice that occurs from Chicago to Rio, and throughout the world," he says.
"When people believe that the project is more of a real world solution than political commentary, they start to make critiques based on the efficacy of the design or the engineering feasibility," he notes, of some critics who struggle with their willing suspension of disbelief. This is not a prototype for a Lagos new build but to start a conversation, he says.
The artist now aims to move his creations beyond photography through an interactive gaming and virtual reality experience.