Floating academy in Geneva holds workshops and courses aimed at reflecting collectively on the impact of climate change.
PARIS: At the beginning of May, third year art students at Collège Sismondi, a public secondary school in Geneva, Switzerland, saw a project they had been working on for several months finally take shape in the form of a floating school entirely built from recycled or recyclable materials.
Deployed on Lake Geneva, in front of the Perle du Lac Park, this temporary academy aims to encourage reflection on new ways of living together and acting together on a variety of themes, explained the teenagers who took part in the project, in an interview with the Swiss media RTS.
Called the “Common Dreams: Flotation School,” the project is supported by the Swiss association Least, based in Nyon, which describes itself as “a laboratory of ecology and art for a society in transition.
“A ‘shelter island,’ designed and realised by the students, will be the place to rethink ways of living together, acting in common and creating new imaginaries, dealing with themes from the most concrete to the most philosophical: community values, working together, food, resources, economy, energy, emotional resilience, place of care, governance and social life,” the association explains on its website.
Inaugurated on April 24, the school was built by Geneva-based carpentry workshop ABX from recyclable and recycled materials.
The teenagers then added their own touch by creating furniture, and living and dining areas, under the expert hand and benevolent supervision of the artist, Maria Lucia Correia.
The students were also introduced to several practices, such as permaculture or food preservation through lacto-fermentation.
Until the end of May, workshops, courses (some of them given by professors from Collège Sismondi) and other activities will be offered to associations, collectives, but also to any individual who wishes to step aboard this floating schoolhouse.
“‘Common Dreams: Flotation School’ is a mobile prototype for a survival climate school, that can travel and adapt to other cities in collaborative alliances with local universities, art institutions and sustainable organizations,” explains the artist Maria Lucia Cruze Correia on her website.
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And indeed, the school has various plans on the horizon. It will be present at Geneva’s BIG Biennale (Biennale insulare des espaces d’art de Genève) from June 23, before hosting Swiss actor Maxime Gorbatchevsky as part of his arts residency at Least. It will then be transformed into an installation, a stone’s throw from Collège Sismondi.
The “Common Dreams: Flotation School” is not the first school of its kind.
In 2022, French arts and science students based overseas presented the Marion Dufresne II, a ship from the French oceanographic fleet, transformed for the occasion into a floating and traveling school to raise awareness about issues surrounding the sea, through a journey in the Indian Ocean.
Other cities around the world are adapting to their natural environment and creating permanent structures.
This was notably the case of the Nigerian architect, Kunlé Adeyemi, who in 2013 gained worldwide recognition with his “Floating School,” based in the Makoko district of the coastal city of Lagos, Nigeria. The school welcomed about 100 children each year. It closed in 2016, after being damaged in a violent storm.