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Architecture, urban planning and research in, on and next to water

Drie watervilla’s dobberen op het Wantij

Ingrid de Groot
March 05 2017

Drie van de vijf watervilla’s op Stadswerven liggen op hun kavels langs de oever van het Wantij.

Ze hebben een bijzonder uitzicht op de molen op de Noordendijk, bioscoop Kineopolis en natuurlijk elke dag is er een andere sfeer door de beleving van het water.

In een van de watervilla’s wordt al gewoond. Op de oever wordt ondertussen door aannemers een rij huizen afgebouwd met elk een eigen ontwerp. Een van de nieuwe panden heeft een trapgeveltje, als knipoog naar het verleden. Meerdere panden hebben op hun verdieping een terras met uitzicht op het water.

Paul Rijfkogel wil over twee weken in zijn watervilla gaan wonen. Hij is eigenaar van de middelste en de komende weken worden de laatste dingen afgewerkt. Zo moet de verwarming nog op zijn kavel worden aangesloten en moet er nog een siervloer in. ,,Het is nu een kale cementvloer.’’

De Dordtenaar heeft in zijn watervilla onder andere een slaapkamer, een logeerkamer en een werkkamer. Hij is dolgelukkig met het resultaat. Precies wat hij had gehoopt. ,,Het is super geworden, heel ruim.’’

Liggend op de kavel is nu écht duidelijk hoe de beleving van het Wantij is. Het klotsen van de golven voel je wel, weet hij inmiddels. ,,Je voelt het op als er een binnenvaartschip voorbij vaart op de rivier. Logisch, je woont op het water. Maar we kunnen het hebben, ik heb altijd een zeilboot gehad.’’

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Holding back the floods

Science World

After one of the worst hurricane seasons on record, what can the U.S. learn from countries With centuries of experience managing floods?

ESSENTIAL QUESTION: Why might collaboration be important when it comes to solving large engineering problems?

Last August, Hurricane Harvey barreled into the Texas coast. In just a few days, the storm dumped more than 1.2 meters (4 feet) of rain On Houston, America’s fourth inost-populous city, and surrounding areas. It set a new record for rainfall from a single storm and led to widespread flooding. Dozens of people died. Tens of thousands had to evacuate, with many still unable to return to their flood-damaged homes. Like Hurricane Sandy, which hit the Northeast five years earlier, and Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005, Harvey demonstrated how vulnerabble U.S. coastal communities are to flooding. More than  120 million Americans—nearly 40 percent – live in a coastal county. And that, population is growing rapidly.

Scientists believe climate change could bring even more intense flooding to the U.S. Warming temperatures and shifting global climate patterns are not only raising sea levels but could also potentially cause more extreme storms. As a result., U.S. coastal communities are looking for ways to prepare for the future (see Fighting Poods Worldwide, p. 17) They’re gathering data locally and collaborating with experts around the world to identify the best strategies to keep people and essential facilities above water.

Perhaps no country on Earth has as much experience protecting against floods as the Netherlands. About a third of the small European nation’s land is below sea level—and much of that area would be underwater if not for centuries of expert engineering. “Flood protection is a huge part of our history and culture,” says Harold van Waveren, a senior adviser for the Dutch government’s flood-prevention agency. “Without it, our country wouldn’t exist.” Van Waveren lives near Amsterdam at a depth of 5 m (16 ft) below sea level in a polder—an area surrounded by walls, called dikes, that keep water out. The country has nearly 3,500 polders, protected by 40,000 kilometers (25,000 miles) of dikes and dams. Flood protections have continued to evolve since Dutch farmers built the first dikes a thousand years ago. A major storm in 1953 that flooded the southwest Netherlands and killed 1,800 people motivated the country to build the massive Delta Works. This project constructed new barriers and dams to protect against storm surges—increases in sea level due to wind and air pressure changes during storms. The project also included channels called sluices, which drain excess water during floods. The crown jewel of the Delta Works is the Maeslantkering (MANS-lau_mt-keh-ring), a giant barrier completed in 1997 that protects Rotterdam, one of the world’s busiest ports, from the sea. Ships must enter and exit the port, so building a permanent barrier that blocked the sea wouldn’t work. Instead, the government decided on a huge gate that remains open most of the time and swings shut during storms (see The Netherlands’ Giant Sea Gates, p. 15).

The Maeslantkering successfully held back the sea during a 2007 storm. But storm surges aren’t the Netherlands’ only flood threats: In 1995, dikes surrounding the narrow Waal River nearly failed during heavy rains, threatening the city of Nijmegen (NYE-may-ken). Some 200,000 people evacuated. “That led to a big change in our strategy,” says van Waveren. “Until then, we thought we could manage nature and have it do as we wanted. But we realized nature is sometimes stronger than we are. We had to stop fighting it and find ways to work with it.” Current flood protection strategies in the Netherlands focus on allowing nature to safely take its course during floods. Workers are restoring and protecting coastal lands like beaches, marshes, and dunes, which provide natural buffers against storms. At more than 30 sites around the country, engineers are also creating additional places where water can go. The city of Nijmegen is part of this program, which is called Room for the River. There, workers recently built an extra channel so river water can flow around the city when the level rises. Low-lying areas are being turned into parks, gardens, sports fields, and other amenities that can act as reservoirs for floodwaters in emergencies without harming people or infrastructure. Builders are also moving dikes farther from the river to create additional space for floodwaters.

On the coast of Texas, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is investigating similar plans to combat storm surges. “The biggest element we’re considering is a large gate structure in the Houston-Galveston area that could be closed if a storm is coming,” says Sharon Tirpak, who is overseeing the study. One possible design resembles the Maeslantkering. “If it’s chosen, it would be one of the largest structures in the world,” she says. For storms like Harvey that dump massive amounts of rain, a sea gate would do little to stop flooding. So the Texas study is also evaluating how natural features like wetlands could help absorb heavy rains. The fact that so much of Houston is covered in concrete is one reason it flooded so badly, says Henk Ovink, the Dutch special envoy for water affairs. His job is to share Dutch expertise in flood management with countries around the world. Restoring native prairies and wetlands, which can soak up water, could help protect Texas and other areas against future floods. A team from USACE recently visited the Netherlands to tour Dutch coastal defenses. And Dutch flood engineers came to the U.S. to compare methods for evaluating the stability of levees—our version of dikes. Ovink says the challenges ahead represent an opportunity for coastal communities to come together to innovate. “In the form of rising seas and storms, water gives a tangible meaning to climate change that we have to prepare for,” he says. “But we can do this. It doesn’t have to be something we fear.” —Jennifer Barone

Besides the Netherlands, other countries and cities around the world are developing innovative approaches to prevent and adapt to floods. Here are a few.

The city is building “green alleys” made with permeable materials like special kinds of concrete and paving stones that allow water to pass through or between them instead of collecting on the surface.

FUTURE CITY: Gardens and trees line a public space. )

STORM MODE: Soil and channels help absorb and divert water.

CHINA is constructing 16 “sponge cities” that incorporate wetlands and rooftops covered with plants. The plants will soak up water, and the wetlands will store water during storms.

A new project will bring five floating shipping containers—including essential facilities like a floating classroom and a kitchen—to a flood-prone neighborhood.

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Water World

Jan. Feb. 2018

Groundbreaking solutions are being invented by forward-thinking architects to show how coastal cities can become more resilient, viewing climate change as an opportunity to lead the way in waterborne and floodresistant architecture.

Sea levels are rising to new highs, temperatures are increasing, and floods and storms are getting fiercer and more widespread. Climate change is not just about the risk of floods and drowning, but also the financial cost of damaged property and businesses; as well as how it will redefine which parts of a city are sought after and which are unsafe. A 1-metre sea level rise would reorganise maps and affect financial stability in many of the world’s biggest waterfronts, in cities like New York and Miami, and low-lying areas in Bangladesh, Vietnam and the Philippines. By resolving the issues stemming from climate change and urbanisation, water-based architecture is redefining urbanism. Offering a minimally invasive method of construction, modern floating developments take advantage of coastal zones, rivers, lakes and canals in spacestarved cities and provide flexibility as they may be modified, moved and reused until the end of their life cycles when they are recycled. The technologies and innovations required for water-based constructions already exist, but now changing the perception towards floating schemes is key to a more sustainable and safer future that will be able to meet modern-day challenges. What if instead of fighting rising sea levels, we embrace the water by integrating it into our cities, creating resilient buildings and infrastructure that can deal with extreme flooding and heavy rains?

A leader in floating architecture who sees the potential that water can bring in making cities more resilient and safer, Koen Olthuis and his Amsterdambased firm Waterstudio (founded in 2003) have been showing the benefits of building on water and how befriending water is a means for survival. Olthuis believes that for centuries, as the climate and sea levels have been relatively stable, the resulting built environments have become too static. Now, with the arrival of uncertainty, cities should be designing with mobility and flexibility, viewing urban water as a chance to upgrade cities rather than a side effect. He states, “We are at the tipping point of entering the next kind of city. We have now the static modern city, but in one or two years from now, we’ll see that the green city will flourish. Then the next city to start will be the smart city with autonomous cars and more data availability—all to create a better city. But we are even one step further. We believe in the rise of the blue city. Cities that are next to, connecting to 1 or have water will start to use that water to create
cities that are more flexible, responsive, adaptive and built to change. So if there’s a need for cities that react to the seasons, that are different in winter than in summer, we can do it on water. We can do it better on water than on land because on water, everything is flexible and you can move complete
urban components.” Dynamic hydro-cities adaptable to changing needs should already be letting water in and making it part of the city, so that rising sea levels or storms would mean living with a bit more water instead of a sudden shock when conditions go from dry to flooded.

To plan for the future, a resilient city should concentrate on which areas should be kept dry, which can be changed from dry to wet, and which existing waters can be expanded; it is all about fighting water with water, wetting up the city. At-risk cities have to make the choice to become climate refugees or adopt floating technologies and become climate innovators.

New York has few flood protections, but that will soon change. In 2012, Lower Manhattan flooded and was left in the dark during Hurricane Sandy, with the greatest extent of inland flooding along the borough’s eastern edge, costing the public billions of dollars. Floodwaters up to 3 feet deep not only inundated the East River Park esplanade, ball fields and plantings, but they also crossed FDR Drive, enveloping streets and buildings. It was following the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Rebuild by Design competition in 2013, seeking new ideas for improving coastal resiliency in the Sandy-affected region, that a proposal led by Danish architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) came about. Dubbed the BIG U, it called for separate but coordinated plans for three contiguous sections of the East River waterfront in Lower Manhattan named compartments, in close coordination with residents, stakeholders and city officials.

Architect Bjarke Ingels states, “The BIG U focuses on Manhattan to address the question: how can we create 10 contiguous miles of flood protection without creating a sea wall, separating the life of the city from the water around it?” Winning the 2015 AIA Institute Honor Awards for Regional & Urban Design, the 1,000,000-square-metre BIG U is a protective system that stretches over low-lying geography from West 54th Street south to The Battery and up to East 40th Street, comprising multiple but linked design projects based on different scales of time, size and investment, where each local neighbourhood customises its own set of programmes, functions and opportunities. More than just a flood barrier, it also provides community-desired amenities. BIG analysed the social, cultural, historical and environmental landscape of each community to determine the best site-specific strategies for protection. At East River Park, it raised the topography of the underused areas between the sports fields and along service roads to screen the park from highway noise and protect the neighbourhood from floods. The introduction of bike lanes and conversion of caged bridges into High Line-like green passages allow for pedestrian access into the newly elevated, resilient coastal parkland, while other modes of circulation such as the highway or future subways could be integrated as well. Ingels says, “Many of the world’s cities are threatened by flooding. Most coastal cities today are using typical flood protection measures that create a wall between the city and the water. We’re looking at how existing infrastructure in coastal cities can serve new and better uses—take the High Line for example, a piece of decommissioned railroad that has become one of the most popular promenades in the city. We thought, ‘What if we could learn from the High Line, and create the Dry Line?’ Instead of waiting for infrastructure to become obsolete before converting it into a public amenity, what if we could design the resilient infrastructure of Manhattan to come with positive social and environmental side effects from day one?”

The USD760-million East Side Coastal Resiliency Project was born from the BIG U concept. Jointly funded by the City of New York and the federal government, it runs from East 25th Street to Montgomery Street. Led by the NYC Department of Design and Construction, Department of Parks and Recreation as well as the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency and working with community partners and residents, it will provide improved coastal protection to more than 110,000 vulnerable New Yorkers through 2.2 miles of enhanced waterfront, ecology and urban spaces, demonstrating a new model for integrating coastal protection into
neighbourhoods upon its expected completion in 2024.

Mohammed Rezwan, Bangladeshi architect and founder of the non-profit organisation Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, is well aware that local livelihoods depend on strategies for living alongside and benefitting from waterways.

“I thought as an architect, I would design exciting things to help the poor in my own communities,” Rezwan says. “I considered dedicating my life to building schools and hospitals in flood-prone areas, then realised they would be underwater soon. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that by 2050, the country could lose 16 per cent of its land to floods, and as many as 20 million people could be left with nowhere to live. Ten per cent of people worldwide live less than 10 metres above sea level and in high-risk zones for floods—about 75 per cent of them in Asia. Not only do floods cause the loss of lives and livelihoods, they also severely interrupt children’s education. That’s why I started designing spaces on boats for school. I thought that if children cannot come to school, then the school should come to them.” The floating school collects students from their homes, moors to the riverside and provides on-board small-group instruction. After school, students take home a recharged, low-cost solar lantern, which provides light at night by which they can study and women can do craftwork to earn extra income, which is also sold to community members to fund the initiative. In the evening, the boats project educational programmes onto screens that people can watch from their homes. The project has even helped to develop floating crop beds to ensure year-round food supply and income for families in flood-prone areas.

Working with local boat builders, Rezwan designed the schools by altering traditional Bangladeshi wooden boats, using native materials and building methods. With a main cabin that can fit 30 children, the boats are 55 feet long by 11 feet wide, incorporating a flat-bottomed hull; flexible wooden floors; top-hinged side windows for daylight and natural ventilation; arched metal beams for column-free spaces; outward-inclining bamboo and wood walls; and monsoon-proof curved roofs with large overhangs equipped with solar panels. It costs BDT1,350,000 to build a single-storey school boat, exclusive of equipment, school supplies and other operational costs. Rezwan began with USD500 in 1998, then received a USD5,000 grant from the Global Fund for Children in 2003, followed by USD100,000 from the Levi Strauss Foundation, and a USD1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2005. Today, Shidhulai’s floating school model has spread across the world, and school boats serve children in flood-prone regions in Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Pakistan, India, Nigeria and Zambia.

LifeArk is a prefabricated, modular building system for mass-produced, affordable, safe, sustainable and easily deployable and assembled housing. Designed for disaster relief and refugee or homeless housing, these self-sustaining, lifesaving homes for water or land that will mobilise economic development and regeneration for millions of slum dwellers and displaced peoples worldwide can be scaled up into communities in different configurations: a school, hospital, livestock or hydroponics farm, or community centre for small businesses. With the option to operate 100 per cent off-grid, allowing units to be moved around as
needed, LifeArk’s modular roof can be fitted with photovoltaic panels, a rainwater harvesting system where a single-family home can store over 30,000 litres of filtered drinking water, a filtration system so that water needed for all other uses can be pumped up from the river, and a portable sewage treatment system. It was selected as one of 17 semi-finalists in the 2017 Buckminster Fuller Challenge, an annual honour known as “socially-responsible design’s highest award”.

Korean-born American architect Charles Wee, founder of GDS Architects and LifeArk, discusses the need for affordable floating architecture, “There are many floating structures being built around the world to address rising water levels. However, many of them are still extremely expensive and are essentially conventional homes being built on buoyant foundations, and mainly serve a high-priced waterfront housing market. Several factors inhibit existing solutions to truly scale as a solution for communities most affected by climate change: speed, cost and policies. Often, existing floating structures require a significant amount of site preparation, much like that of a conventional home—the speed of delivery and assembly cannot adequately address the rapidly growing need.
Additionally, current projects are simply unaffordable for those who need it most. With the number of climate refugees expected to increase mostly due to flooding, there is a pressing need to proactively respond to this challenge. Many major cities in the developing world are already struggling to properly house their rapidly growing population—a trend that is only expected to grow. For example, in Nigeria, the scarcity of land and affordable housing has pushed people out onto the waters, resulting in the Makoko floating slum community (home to nearly 250,000 residents). LifeArk can rapidly provide resilient homes by master planning communities onto the water, addressing the land scarcity [issue] many cities are facing.”

Roto-moulded with environmentally-stable, recyclable and zero-maintenance high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and injected with polyurethane foam with inherent additives to form a composite material to provide fire resistance, buoyancy, thermal performance and structural values, LifeArk units are prefabricated via a module-based construction system that ensures efficiency in manufacture, assembly, relocation and reassembly, with a lifespan of 20 to 30 years. Interior walls, flooring and finishes may be customised. Arriving on-site, each module can be quickly assembled by unskilled workers using standard tools in just two hours. The only skilled labour required on-site is connections to sewers. LifeArk cuts the total design and construction time for prefabricated architecture in half, while its persquare- foot cost is expected to be approximately one-third of the price of conventional ground-up housing. LifeArk will apply a manufacturing protocol using US life safety standards to all parts of the world to use locally sourced HDPE and set up factories for manufacture, final assembly and site adaptation as required in future.

Olthuis concludes, “We are in a very exciting moment in time where architects and urban planners have to rethink the way we live and use our resources. We have to look carefully at how space is being used, and that space can change functionality immediately if it’s on water. You can pop in or take out floating functions for different uses throughout the year: parks, offices, houses, entertainment and car parks. If you go one step further, cities that are close to each other, like 50 or 100 kilometres from each other, both next to water, could start to build and share big public functions. A city is in constant evolution: from a normal city to a green city, a smart city and eventually a blue city, and that blue city should be better than all the cities before it.
Water is the next frontier; it’s the next place where cities will start to expand, while improving liveability, sustainability, safety and flexibility.”

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Wonen op water is interessante voorbereiding op stijging zeespiegel
By Gidi Pols
May 16 2018

Nederland telt steeds meer woningen waarvan de fundering drijft op water. In Woerden is bijna een wijkje af en in Zeewolde begint de bouw in het voorjaar. sprak met bewoners, bouwers en experts over de kansen en obstakels van huizen op water.

In heel Nederland drijven ongeveer vijfhonderd woningen, schat waterwoningarchitect Koen Olthuis. “Dat zijn woningen gebouwd volgens het bouwbesluit en met een eigen kavel. Geen woonarken dus.”

Slechts 150 daarvan zijn echt ontwikkeld voor permanente bewoning, voegt projectontwikkelaar Olaf Janssen daaraan toe. “Maar het laatste jaar is de bouw in een stroomversnelling gekomen.”

Janssen woont sinds 2013 op het water bij Delft. “De gemeente gaf kavels vrij. Toen ik een waterwoning wilde laten bouwen, kwam ik erachter dat er geen geschikt bouwsysteem was. Dus begon ik zelf een bedrijf.”

Nu bouwt hij in een recreatieplas bij Woerden twaalf woningen en begint de bouw van twintig drijvende huizen bij Zeewolde in het voorjaar. “We hebben nog voor tientallen andere locaties projecten in de pijplijn.” Tegelijkertijd ontwikkelt een ander architectenbureau achttien huizen in de Nassauhaven, een oude Rotterdamse stadshaven.


Een van de waterwoningbezitters is Martin van Eijk. Met zijn vrouw en zoon verhuisde hij deze zomer naar een drijvend huis op de Woerdense recreatieplas. “In het begin voelde het elke dag als vakantie. Een huis in de Randstad met vrij zicht over het water, waar vind je dat nou?”, zegt Van Eijk.

“We hebben er nauwelijks onderhoud aan. Anders dan bij een woonboot hoeft het huis niet uit het water voor onderhoud. Door het speciale stucwerk en de kunststofkozijnen hoeven we boven water ook nauwelijks iets te doen. Mijn vorige huis had een hoop houtwerk. Dat moesten we elke drie jaar verven”, merkt Van Eijk op.

Architect Olthuis ziet nog drie belangrijke verklaringen voor de toenemende bouwnijverheid op water. “Allereerst zijn drijvende woningen flexibeler. Nu zie ik vaak dat gebouwen soms al na twintig jaar worden afgebroken omdat er nieuwe plannen zijn. Op land is dat doodzonde. Maar in het water kunnen de huizen heel makkelijk verplaatst worden. Het gebied kan dan weer gebruikt worden voor iets anders.”

Water genoeg

Daarnaast wordt ruimte efficiënter benut, zegt Olthuis. “In steden als Amsterdam en Rotterdam is veel behoefte aan nieuwe woningen, maar nauwelijks meer grond beschikbaar. Water is er wel genoeg.” Ook de vele plassen, kanalen en sloten die dienen als bergingswater kunnen goed gebruikt worden voor bebouwing.

“Bijkomend voordeel is dat huizen op bergingswater veiliger zijn dan naast bergingswater”, aldus Olthuis. Doordat de huizen drijven, stijgen ze met het water mee bij overstromingen. Terwijl de kelders en begane grond van andere huizen nat worden, houden de bewoners van de waterwoningen droge voeten.

Vooral die laatste reden is belangrijk voor de gemeente Rotterdam, zegt gemeenteplanoloog Walter de Vries. “Rotterdam heeft een open verbinding met de zee. Wij hebben eb en vloed. Drijvende woningen stijgen mee. Maar het is een illusie, dat drijvend wonen flexibeler is. Technisch gezien klopt dat misschien, maar het is financieel en juridisch ingewikkeld. Daarnaast wortelen de bewoners zich ook op een plek.” Het ruimtegebrek is volgens De Vries voor Rotterdam geen argument. “Plek op land vinden is nog altijd makkelijker.”


De terughoudendheid van de overheid wordt al jaren het belangrijkste obstakel genoemd. Bouwbedrijf Dura Vermeer bouwde in 2003 al 46 drijvende vakantiewoningen in een zijtak van de Maas bij Maasbommel. Vijf jaar later was er zelfs een heus Nationaal Congres Waterwonen.

“Iedereen vindt de plannen op het gebied van waterwonen leuk”, zei medeorganisator Ties Rijcken van de TU Delft destijds. “Maar in de praktijk wordt er nauwelijks iets gedaan.” De obstakels die toen gesignaleerd werden waren “bureaucratische rode stoplichten”, projectontwikkelaars met “koudwatervrees” en twijfelende consumenten die vreesden voor de rechtszekerheid.

Dura Vermeer bouwde nog het drijvend paviljoen in Rotterdam en 32 vakantiewoningen in het Limburgse deel van de Maas. “Maar toen de crisis kwam zijn we gestopt”, vertelt woordvoerder Glenn Metselaar. “Het was echt pionierswerk, waarin we veel tegen regelgeving aanliepen. Dus moesten we enorm lobbyen. Daar was in de crisis geen geld voor.”


Nu de crisis achter de rug is, lopen de voorvechters van de waterwoning nog vaak tegen die rode stoplichten van gemeentes en koudwatervrees van ontwikkelaars aan. “De techniek is niet het probleem”, erkent gemeenteplanoloog De Vries.

“Het ingewikkelde zijn de organisatorische en juridische vragen. Veel projecten stranden omdat het water in gebruik is. Water lijkt misschien leeg, maar heeft vaak een functie. Bijvoorbeeld voor de beroepsvaart. We hebben verschillende voorstellen gehad om honderden huizen te bouwen op de Rijnhaven, maar van die haven willen we juist graag de publieke functie behouden”, aldus De Vries.

Toch ziet de gemeenteplanoloog de voordelen van drijvende woningen. “Drijvend bouwen is een superinteressante voorbereiding op de zeespiegelstijging. Daarnaast trekt het een nieuwe groep avontuurlijke mensen naar de stad.”

De toekomstige woningen in de Nassauhaven zijn een essentiële proef. “Als die er liggen en het blijkt een succes, komen er komende jaren waarschijnlijk honderden drijvende woningen bij in Rotterdam. We denken nu bijvoorbeeld al na over een project in de Merwe-Vierhavens.”

Vooral op juridisch vlak is de ontwikkeling van de Nassauhaven al een belangrijke proeftuin. De Vries: “De woningen zijn verankerd, daardoor zijn ze niet verplaatsbaar. Ondanks dat ze drijven. Daardoor kunnen de bewoners een normale hypotheek krijgen.”


Als banken niet de zekerheid hebben dat de woning lang op een plek blijft, zijn de waterwoningbezitters aangewezen op een woonboothypotheek.

Grote hypotheekverstrekkers als ABN Amro en Aegon bieden deze hypotheken niet aan. Voormalig marktleider ING stopte vorig jaar eveneens met woonboothypotheken omdat er jaarlijks “nog geen paar honderd” werden verstrekt en het een “onzekerder product” is. Daardoor bleef alleen de relatief dure woonboothypotheek van Rabobank over.

In Woerden dacht de gemeente daarom mee met de bewoners. “De gemeente heeft een permanente woonvergunning uitgegeven”, vertelt bewoner Van Eijk. “Het water onder ons huis is eigen grond en we hebben vaste nutsvoorzieningen.”

Dankzij deze permanente woonvergunning kon Van Eijk een normale woonhuishypotheek krijgen. “Het voelt ook als een gewoon huis. Alleen bij storm zie je af en toe een lamp bewegen.”

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Wasserlabor Oranje

Ein Viertel der Niederlande liegt unterhalb des Meeresspiegels. Die Bewohner haben gelernt, den Naturgewalten zu trotzen – und Fluten und Stürme sogar nutzbar zu machen. In Zeiten von Klimawandel und Umweltbelastungen hat das Land nun erneut eine Führungsrolle übernommen. Überall blühen Projekte, die Wasser als Teil einer neuen Lebensqualität begreifen.

Ramon Knoester hält einen Beutel hoch. Den Inhalt würde jedes Kind sofort gern ausschütten und damit spielen: blaue, rote, weiße und graue Steinchen, kunterbunt gemixt und alle verschieden geformt. Sie sind aus Plastik. Für den Architekten mit Büro in der Nähe des Hauptbahnhofs von Rotterdam sind sie derzeit das wichtigste Material. Denn die kleinen Partikel werden zu einer festen dunklen Masse weiterverarbeitet, um daraus Fundamente zu fertigen. Diese sollen dann später, überwuchert von Pflanzen, im Wasser schwimmen. „Mein fünfjähriger Sohn hat in der Kita voller Stolz erzählt, dass sein Vater Plastikinseln baut“, sagt Knoester mit breitem Lächeln. Landgewinnung aus recyceltem Wohlstandsmüll. Das ist eine neue Dimension für die Niederländer, die schon immer sehr einfallsreich darin waren, aus ihrer besonderen Lage Potenzial zu ziehen. Im weitläufigen Wasserbecken von Europas größtem Seehafen mit seiner modernen Wolkenkratzer-Skyline sind es Menschen wie Ramon Knoester, die dessen Zukunft im Blick haben. Der Gründer des Architektenbüros WHIM arbeitet seit vier Jahren vornehmlich im Rotterdamer Hafendelta, wo die Flüsse Rhein, Maas und Schelde münden. Und mit ihnen Tonnen von Plastikmüll aus ganz Europa. Die möchte Knoester einsammeln, bevor sie ins offene Meer hinaustreiben. Dafür wurden erste Filteranlagen installiert: „Als Architekt sehe ich mich in einer gesellschaftlichen Verantwortung. Es geht darum, mit dem Rohstoff Altplastik nachhaltige bauliche Lösungen auf dem Wasser umzusetzen.“ Grün-blaues Experimentierfeld Das Projekt hat bereits Form angenommen. Am Wilhelminapier liegen die Floating Pavillons – drei Kuppeln auf schwimmendem Untergrund, die wie Raumstationen anmuten. Vor 100 Jahren legten von der Halbinsel die Ozeandampfer mit Auswanderern nach Nordamerika ab. Die Pavillons, die heute an dieser Stelle im Wasser liegen, dienen als Veranstaltungsort und Ausstellungsfläche. Sie symbolisieren den neuen Aufbruch Rotterdams. Für Knoester war
»Wir wollen das
Plastik im Meer
reduzieren und es für
nachhaltige bauliche
Lösungen auf dem
Wasser nutzen.«
Ramon Knoester: Der Architekt (Büro
WHIM) gründete den Recycled Park und lässt
das Konzept im Hafen von Rotterdam testen.

wirtschaft und gesellschaft reportage es deshalb der ideale Platz, den Prototyp seines Recycled Park anzudocken. Es handelt sich um drei Module von jeweils 2,40 Meter Breite. An der rauen Unterseite finden Wasserpflanzen Halt, die obere Fläche ist mit dichten Gräsern bepflanzt. Auf weiteren bojenartigen Plattformen schaukeln Bäume wie Skulpturen im Wasser. Denkbar sind Plattformen in flexibler Größe bis zu Tausenden von Quadratmetern. Die Stadtverwaltung hat den Recycled Park jüngst in ihr städtebauliches Konzept aufgenommen, nach dem demnächst zusätzliche grüne Zonen im Hafen geschaffen werden sollen. Rotterdam ist überall grün-blaues Experimentierfeld. Das zeigt sich auch, wenn man der Stadt aufs Dach steigt. Eveline Bronsdijk macht das fast täglich. „In den vergangenen zehn Jahren haben wir rund 250.000 Quadratmeter Dachfläche begrünt“, sagt die Angestellte der Stadtentwicklungsbehörde, zuständig für „Nachhaltigkeit und Kommunikation“. Während sie ihren Tee im Café- garten Op Het Dak trinkt, lässt sich ein paar Meter entfernt eine Besuchergruppe die Bewässerung von Dachtomaten erklären. Der achte Stock eines Sechzigerjahre-Bürokomplexes ist eine blühende Landschaft mit Ruhezonen, Wildgarten und Beeten, gelegen zwischen Bahnhof und Rathaus. „Viele Gebäude galten als abbruchreif“, erklärt Bronsdijk, „jetzt ist hier in einem ehemaligen sozialen Brennpunkt ein ganz neues Nachbarschaftsgefühl entstanden. Und wir sammeln Regenwasser keineswegs nur zum Blumengießen.“ 80 Prozent unter Meeresspiegel Von der Dachterrasse hat man einen guten Blick auf den Water Square Benthemplein, wo Kinder spielen und Skater auf den Treppenstufen ihre Fahrkünste üben. An starken Regentagen verwandelt sich das Ganze in einen Stadtteilsee. Eine typisch niederländische Lösung: ein Regenrückhaltebecken,
das die städtischen Abwasserkanäle entlastet und gleichzeitig als Ort der Kommunikation dient. In Rotterdam, nach verheerenden Bombenzerstörungen ab 1945 nahezu komplett wiederaufgebaut, hat man verinnerlicht, sich immer wieder neu zu erfinden. Die zweitgrößte Stadt der Niederlande, in der rund 630.000 Menschen leben, liegt zu 80 Prozent unterhalb des Meeresspiegels, an manchen Stellen bis zu sechs Meter. Die Überschwemmung von Straßen wäre die zwangsläufige Folge. Zur Verhinderung hat man an der Südküste des Landes einen Schutzverbund aus Deichen, Hochwasserschleusen und Pumpen installiert. Der Klimawandel mit dem stetigen Anstieg des Meeresspiegels hat den Außendruck auf das System erhöht. Doch nicht nur das

»Wir begrünen
Dachflächen, und
gleichzeitig verän­ dern wir den Wasser­ haushalt der Stadt.«
Eveline Bronsdijk: Die Stadtbedienstete
treibt seit zehn Jahren Klimaschutzmaßnahmen
in Rotterdam voran.

wirtschaft und gesellschaft reportage Meer, auch die größeren Mengen an Flusswasser und Regen müssen bewältigt werden. Rotterdam leistet sich eine eigene Klimaschutzbehörde, die sich im Dialog mit Wissenschaftlern, Umwelttechnikern und Architekten darum bemüht, neue Wasserkreisläufe zu gestalten. Gebäude schwimmen im Wasser „Jahrzehntelang haben wir alles dafür getan, das Wasser fernzuhalten, wir müssen nun lernen, es mehr für uns zu nutzen“, sagt Koen Olthuis vom Waterstudio im nahe gelegenen Rijswijk. Er ist Architekt, aber wie viele seiner Kollegen arbeitet auch er interdisziplinär, und sieht sich als Visionär „schwimmender Städte“. Was er damit meint, kann man Fotos: Miquel Gonzalez (2), Ullsteinbild im neu entstandenen Stadtteil IJburg, östlich von Amsterdam, besichtigen. Dort, im Ijsselmeer, realisierte das Team von Olthuis das Waterwoningen-Projekt, eine Siedlung aus rund 60 Objekten, vom Bungalow bis zum dreigeschossigen Mietshaus. Selbst die 18 Meter hohen Gebäude schwimmen stabil im Wasser und trotzen Stürmen von Windstärkezwölf. Vergleichbar mit einer mächtigen Bohrinsel, zeigt das Konstrukt, dass die Besiedlung des Wassers im größeren Stil möglich ist. „Holland verbindet man gern mit pittoresken Hausbooten“, sagt Olthuis, „aber wir wollen weiterdenken und neue urbane Lebensformen realisieren.“ Das Wasser nicht als Feind, sondern als natürlichen Freund sehen: Das ist ein Ansatz, der sich in der niederländischen Mentalität immer stärker durchsetzt. Koen Katastrophenalarm: Bei der stärksten Sturmflut der Neuzeit kamen 1953 im Süden der Niederlande 1.835 Menschen und mehr als 200.000 Tiere ums Leben. Als Konsequenz entwarf die Regierung den Delta-Plan für einen besseren Küstenschutz, mit dessen Umsetzung 1958 begonnen wurde. Delta-Werke: Mit 13 Sturmflutsperren ist die Anlage an der Nordseeküste ein weltweit einzigartiges, laufend erweitertes technisches Monument; allein das Oosterscheldesperrwerk misst eine Länge von drei Kilometern. Abgeschlossen wurde das Projekt 1997 mit dem Maeslantwehr in der Provinz Zuid-Holland. Zukunft: Auch nach Vollendung der Küstenanlagen investiert die staatliche Delta-Kommission jährlich weiter 1,2 Milliarden € in Forschungsprojekte und Maßnahmen zum Hochwasserschutz. Niederlande: sturmerprobt und erfinderisch Seit Jahrhunderten leben die Niederländer mit dem Wasser. Es ist eine wechselvolle Geschichte mit ständig neuen Herausforderungen. Olthuis, der regelmäßig Expertendelegationen aus aller Welt empfängt, plädiert für ein fundamentales Umdenken. Das Wasser aus Poldern, also den eingedeichten, für das Tulpenland so charakteristischen Gebieten, müsse nicht ins Meer zurückgepumpt werden. Geflutete Flächen könnten in Zukunft besiedelt werden – mit flexiblen amphibischen Plattformen. Olthuis: „Sie passen sich dem Wasser an und wären sogar verschiebbar, sodass man sie an anderer Stelle wieder andocken könnte.“ Der Paradigmenwechsel vollzieht sich in den Niederlanden auf breiter Front. Behördliche Unterstützung erhalten aber nicht nur Hafenstädte. In den zurückliegenden Jahren hat sich vor allem das Bewusstsein durchgesetzt, dass das Flussnetz im Sturmflut 1953: Bürger pumpen ihre Keller aus. Landesinneren ein maßgeblicher Teil des sensiblen Ökosystems ist. Auch hier die Erkenntnis: Landgewinnung und die Begradigung von Flussläufen haben die Gefahr von Überschwemmungen eher verstärkt – ein Problem, mit dem viele Länder kämpfen. Unter der Prämisse „Raum für die Flüsse“ legten die Niederländer bereits vor zehn Jahren ein staatliches Programm auf, dessen Auswirkungen sich nun für alle sichtbar zeigen, zum Beispiel entlang der Waal nahe der Stadt Nijmegen. Drei Jungs spielen ausgelassen am Fluss- ufer, auf der gegenüberliegenden Seite gehen Oma und Enkel mit dem Hund spazieren, Jogger laufen über die neu errichteten Brü- cken. Andrea Voskens blickt über die Waal: „Dieses Programm hat unsere Einstellung zum Fluss total geändert“, zieht sie Bilanz, „früher war hier nicht so viel los; jetzt ist ein echtes Freizeitparadies entstanden.“ Im Einzugsgebiet der 170.000 Einwohner zählenden Stadt Nijmegen ist neuerdings sogar
Wassersport möglich – früher aufgrund der Strömung und des Schiffsverkehrs undenkbar. Der Umbau der Waal, des südlichen Arms im Flussdelta des Rheins, gehörte zu insgesamt 30 landesweit durchgeführten Projekten. Architektin Voskens hat bei der Stadtverwaltung Nijmegen als Stakeholdermanagerin die Umsetzung von „Raum für die Flüsse“ vor Ort betreut. In Nijmegen macht die Waal eine 90-Grad-Kurve und verengt sich von 1.500 auf 450 Meter Breite. Ein Flaschenhals, der 1993 und 1995 zu Hochwasser und großen Überflutungen in der Stadtregion und weiter südlich gelegenen Flussgebieten führte. 250.000 Menschen mussten damals evakuiert werden. Diese Erfahrung führte zu einem Umdenken: Statt immer höhere Deiche zu bauen, sollten die Flüsse mehr Platz bekommen. Beispiel für New York In Nijmegen wurde dafür ein dreieinhalb Kilometer langer Seitenkanal gebaut und der ursprüngliche Deich zurückverlegt. Dadurch entstand eine Insel. Häuser, die vorher im Hochwasserüberschwemmungsgebiet lagen, stehen jetzt auf dieser Insel, 50 Häuser mussten weichen. „Als das Projekt startete, gab es viel Protest“, erinnert sich Voskens. Die Menschen im betroffenen Stadtteil Lent wollten ihre Häuser nicht verlassen oder befürchteten, dass der Grundwasserspiegel durch die Verlegung des Deichs steigen und ihre Häuser beschädigen


»Wir sollten das Wasser nicht nur mit Deichen fernhalten, sondern es vor allem für neue Lebensformen nutzen.«
Koen Olthuis: Der Leiter des Büros Waterstudio entwickelt schwimmende Elemente – zum Wohnen und Arbeiten. wirtschaft und gesellschaft reportage
Eine gerade gebaute schwimmende Siedlung in Dordrecht, konzipiert vom Architektenbüro Waterstudio.

könnte. Doch im Laufe des Projekts ändertesich die Einstellung. Alle zogen schließlich freiwillig um und opferten ihre Häuser dem Allgemeinwohl. Lent war bis vor wenigen Jahren ein Dorf. Die wachsende Stadt Nijmegen hatte das durch die Waal vom Stadtzentrum getrennte Lent schon vor Projektbeginn als künftiges
Stadtgebiet eingeplant. „Raum für die Flüsse“ war damit nicht nur ein Hochwasserschutzprojekt, sondern diente auch der Stadtentwicklung. Und die Bürger von Lent sind inzwischen stolz darauf. „Wir haben von Anfang an alle beteiligt“, sagt Andrea Voskens. Sie war stets ansprechbar, half bei vielen technischen Details und bei der Suche nach neuen Wohnungen. Auch beim letzten Gang durch die Häuser stand sie den Familien bei. „Sie verlieren ihre Vergangenheit“, war ihr dabei immer bewusst. Das trieb sie an, zufriedenstellende Lösungen für die Zukunft der Menschen zu finden. Eine Aufgabe, die der vorher technisch orientierten
Architektin ein gutes Gefühl gab: „Das Beste am ganzen Projekt war, dass die Menschen mir vertraut haben.“ Dieses offene Klima und die praxisnahen Ansätze finden auch anderswo große Beachtung. Michael Kimmelmann von der New York Times ist beeindruckt von der Innovationskraft, sieht darin ein Vorbild für wasserreiche US-Metropolen wie New York oder New Orleans: „In diesem kleinen wasserdurchtränkten Land wird der Klimawandel nicht als Belastung, sondern als Chance gesehen.“ In Rotterdam erlebte der US-Reporter urbane Vielfalt auf dem Wasser; auch das neueste Projekt, das zwei Kernkompetenzen der Niederländer verbindet: Seefahrt und Landwirtschaft. Das Architekturbüro Beladon lässt im Hafen eine schwimmende Farm („Merve4Heaven“) entstehen. Auf drei Ebenen sollen dort bald Kühe grasen, ernährt von einem geschlossenen Biokreislauf aus Solarenergie, Regenwasser und Futtermitteln. „Wir bringen die Landwirtschaft in die Stadt und die frische Milch näher an den Verbraucher, sparen Transportwege und Energie“, schwärmt Beladon-Chef Peter van Wingerden. Dies sollte mit der populären Urban-Farming-Bewegung auch für ein anderes niederländisches Urprodukt möglich sein: das wassernahe Züchten der Treibhaustomate. Van Wingerden glaubt fest daran, dass sein Pilotprojekt viele Nachahmer finden wird: „Städte werden weiter wachsen, und die meisten Ballungsräume liegen an Flüssen und Gewässern. Warum sollten wir das nicht nutzen?“


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Waterstudio makes a splash with floating architectural visions

The spectacular Sea Tree concept is designed for flora and fauna where cities have no land left for animals or plants to thrive. The estimated cost is €1 million (US$1.18 million) and the entire structure is tethered to the sea bed by cables(Credit: Waterstudio)

For the last 13 years, Dutch Architect Koen Olthuis has been designing floating structures at his firm Waterstudio. His spectacular visions for reimagining urban environments has resulted in over 200 floating buildings around the world. Let’s dive in and take a look at some of the studio’s work.

Olthuis’ work ranges from hugely speculative concepts like his spectacular Sea Tree, to firmly pragmatic design solutions like the Floating City Apps, which are refitted shipping containers that float on beds of recycled plastic bottles.

One of the more extraordinary recent floating projects to get underway is a series of private artificial islands in the Maldives called Amillarah. These luxury floating islands are designed for the super rich and the first island is set to be built soon, with dozens to quickly follow.

But Waterstudio isn’t just interested in designing islands for the super rich. In fact, Olthuis’ main vision is to create floating developments as an architectural response to rising sea levels and increasing urban density. The City Apps project in particular is a compelling, and adaptive, solution to helping less-advantaged communities in flood prone areas. The first major delivery, including a classroom and a floating solar energy plant, will soon arrive in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Rich Haridy, November 24th, 2017

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What would an entirely flood-proof city look like?

They call it “pave, pipe, and pump”: the mentality that has dominated urban development for over a century.

Along with the explosion of the motorcar in the early 20th century came paved surfaces. Rainwater – instead of being sucked up by plants, evaporating, or filtering through the ground back to rivers and lakes – was suddenly forced to slide over pavements and roads into drains, pipes and sewers.

Their maximum capacities are based on scenarios such as 10-year storms. And once they clog, the water – with nowhere else to go – simply rises.

The reality of climate change and more frequent and intense downpours has exposedthe hubris of this approach. As the recent floods from Bangladesh to Texas show, it’s not just the unprecedented magnitude of storms that can cause disaster: it’s urbanisation.

Hurricane Harvey displaced more than one million people, resulted in at least 44 deaths and damaged 185,000 homes in Houston alone
The US National Weather Service said the “breadth and intensity” of the rainfall that came with Hurricane Harvey in late August was “catastrophic”, and “beyond anything experienced before” – the city was overwhelmed with devastating speed, as can happen in areas where much of the land is paved.

A recent survey of global city authorities carried out by the environmental non-profit CDP found 103 cities were at serious risk of flooding.

With climate change both a reality and threat, many architects and urbanists are pushing creative initiatives for cities that treat stormwater as a resource, rather than a hazard.

Permeable pavements: Chicago’s ‘green alleys’

One city already preparing for a climate future – or present – is Chicago, parts of which saw almost 20cm of rain in four days this July. It is projected to have 40% more winter precipitation by the end of this century.

The city has poured significant investment into reimagining stormwater management over the last decade, including building more than 100 “Green Alleys” – permeable pavement that allows stormwater to filter through and drain into the ground – built since 2006.

It’s very simple, but it’s very difficult for people to grasp, because we’ve not designed like that in a century

Jay Womack
The most advanced is the two-mile “sustainable streetscape” across Cermak Rd and Blue Island Ave in Pilsen, in Chicago’s Lower West Side. Once a crumbling asphalt strip inclined to flood, today it is “the greenest street in America”: a $15m showcase for cutting-edge ecological technologies such as photocatalytic cement to reduce smog and landscaped shallow troughs known as bioswales, which act as environmentally-friendly drainage, filtering and absorb polluted water.

On the Pilsen Sustainable Street, rainwater travels through the sidewalk to porous rock, where it is decontaminated by microbes. It then goes onto feed surrounding plants, or it filters through sand deep in the ground to make its way back to Lake Michigan.

Rainwater travels through the self-cleaning, pollution-reducing sidewalk before going on to feed surrounding plants
In this way, 80% of rainfall is diverted from the sewage system, and the road no longer floods, says Jay Womack, a senior landscape architect at Huff & Huff, which was commissioned to design the street.

“We try to create porosity and permeability so that water can move in the ways that it moves in the hydrological cycle,” says Womack. “It’s very simple, but it’s very difficult for people to grasp, because we’ve not designed like that in a century.”

Sponge cities: a new model for China

Lessons from Chicago are being applied in China, where the government has commissioned the construction of 16 “Sponge Cities” to pilot solutions for the freshwater scarcity and flooding suffered in many cities as a result of rapid urbanisation. Chicago architectural firm UrbanLab was commissioned to design the masterplan for Yangming Archipelago in Hunan province: a new centre within the larger city of Changde, devised as a “new model for the future”.

Changde’s ‘Eco-Boulevard’, in dry conditions (left) and wet (right)
The area, a low-lying land river basin that experiences heavy rainfall, is regularly flooded. Instead of incorporating defences against water, UrbanLab put space for it to flow at the centre of its urban plan, putting major buildings on islands in an enormous central lake. Canal-lined streets that UrbanLab call “Eco-boulevards” connect the eight districts – the process is visualised in this video.

UrbanLab says their vision combines a dense metropolis with a nature setting: “As a functional center, Yangming Archipelago will serve as an urban model, we expect it to lead the way to a new way of thinking about the city of the future.”

Coastal corridors: no more ‘holding the line’

With 2.5 million residents of New York and New Jersey currently living within a designated flood zone, the Tri-State Region of the US is already vulnerable to flooding, and the outlook will only deteriorate with rising sea levels.

A cross-discipline team was commissioned by the Regional Plan Association and the Rockefeller Foundation to devise a response to the pressure put on the region’s coastlines within 50 years and six feet of sea-level rise.

The aerial map above shows flooding in New Mastic in 2050 and, on the right, in New Mastic in 2050 after the proposed future development. Development on high, dry ground would be densified while homes in wet areas would evolve into a new elevated neighbourhood, built along docks.

They proposed freezing future development on flood plains in favour of focusing new housing in the neighbourhoods of Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island and New Jersey along “corridors” and transit spines inland on higher ground.

The team reimagined The Bight, the notch in the region’s coast where ocean currents pile sand, as a new “landscape economic zone” that would blur the hard line between the city and the sea and create new spaces for habitation, conservation, work and play.

These cross-sections show how Segal and Drake’s team envisage buildings could exist on the shifting threshold of water and land. Click on the images to expand and see more detail
“Rather than futilely trying to hold the line, the zone’s mantra is ‘receive, protect, adapt’,” said Segal and Drake.

Per their vision, the coastline would be transformed into “the new urban frontier” with a vanishing barrier island at Sea Bright, NJ, by 2030; a retirement walkable community at Mastic Beach in NY by 2050; and New York City’s “new sunken central park” at Jamaica Bay by 2067.

Berms with benefits: a barrier with bike lanes and BRT too

The stakes of failing to adapt to flood risk were made clear by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which caused the deaths of 147 people and cost the US more than $50bn in damage.

One of the worst-affected areas was Meadowlands in New Jersey, a low-lying wetland basin bisected by the Hackensack river.

During the hurricane it was impossible to pump out water because of tidal flooding on the other side of the dike, and the area was devastated: houses filled with water, cars floated away, residents had to be rescued with boats, and critical infrastructure failed.

Kristian Koreman, a co-founder of ZUS, a Rotterdam-based architectural practice, says development had failed to take into account the local ecology.

“By neglecting the fact that they were building in a swamp, they forgot that it was a tidal area,” he says. “You can see that the water goes up and down every day, but with a real storm like Sandy, and a tidal flood plus heavy rain, water came from all sides and there was no way to escape that.”

By neglecting the fact that they were building in a swamp, they forgot that it was a tidal area

Kristian Koreman
In response to Sandy, ZUS partnered with MIT’s Center for Advanced Urbanism and De Urbanisten to devise New Meadowlands: a masterplan for combining flood resilience with recreational amenities through marshes and a system of parallel raised banks called berms. (The aerial rendering is shown at the top of this article.)

Between the outer berm and the sea, the restored wetlands would soak up seawater and slow down tidal waves, preventing them from hitting the dikes at high speed. The stretch of berms would serve as a wildlife refuge, filling up with rainwater during periods of heavy rain before draining out. And on the insider of the inner berm, ditches and ponds would retain rainwater, preventing it from causing sewers to overflow.

The first pilot project will focus on the towns of Little Ferry, Moonachie and Carlstadt, with $150m in funding from the US Department Housing and Urban Development.

Given the triple whammy of climate change, increasing urbanisation and budget constraints, infrastructure projects now have to serve multiple purposes: Koreman says the team were under pressure to deliver the most value per dollar possible.

Their plan includes a huge recreation zone, as well as bike lanes and a rapid transit bus lane running across the top of the berms to better connect Meadowlands to New York. ZUS sees its design as “berms with benefits”.

Floating pods – and beyond

Koen Olthuis, the founder of Waterstudio, a Dutch architectural practice that builds exclusively floating and amphibious structures, believes the way to encourage flood resilience is to make sure it’s almost overshadowed by those other benefits.

Olthuis is trying to improve living standards in waterside slums by providing vital functions such as education, sanitation and power in floating shipping containers built on foundations made of thousands of waste plastic bottles. He calls the units “city apps” as they are easy to install and launch. Since they can be moved, they can be granted a temporary licence by city governments that normally prohibit development in illegal settlements; and because they float, they entice investors who would ordinarily shy from investing in a flood plain.

A City App used as a classroom
The first major project is in Korail, a slum on the waterside in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where five units will be arriving in October: a classroom, a sanitation unit, a kitchen and a battery pack connected to a floating solar field.

Olthuis says he works with nature, rather than treating it as a threat – which means letting water flow where it wants, and using floods as a catalyst for more flexible urban development. He talks of relieving crowding in cities by building amphibious architecture on flood plains, or augmenting a city with pop-up floating structures on waterways – concert halls, stadiums, even rescue and relief units during disasters.

“For us,” he says, “it’s the wetter, the better.”

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What It Takes to Make a Brand New Island

Koen Olthuis is convinced that nature always has a way of finding balance in our world: It is an equalizer and a force that can undo any disruption. The Earth is a healer and a blessing. No matter how abusive and destructive our species becomes, Mother Earth forgives and finds a way.

As the principal architect at Waterstudio.NL in the Netherlands, Olthuis constructed his vision around the collaboration of man and nature. For years, he tried to execute architecture that worked together with nature’s path instead of against it.

Now, he is among the first, along with developer Dutch Docklands, to create floating islands and homes in the Maldives that are meant for humans, but are also lifelines for the ocean and species below.

The Maldives, located in the Indian Ocean, are the lowest lying island chain and archipelago in the world — most of the country is only about three feet above sea level. It is the flattest country on Earth, and consists of 1,190 tiny islands built entirely on coral reefs. The coral reefs provide the majority of marine diversity and sustain the islands.

The islands are expected to be the first victims of climate change: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that if we don’t take action on climate change in the next five to 10 years, sea level will rise by up to four feet by the end of the century.

A nation is on the brink of extinction, but Olthuis’s philosophy is a spark in an otherwise dark maze for the Maldivian people. It’s just the beginning and it’s taken Olthuis a lifetime to get here.

Amillarah, Floating Island, The Maldives

Courtesy of Dutch Docklands
In 2003 Olthuis, also known as the “Floating Dutchman,” was working on floating houseboats in the Netherlands. As an architecture and industrial design expert in Holland who spent his life studying the architecture of water, this was a natural progression for him. Holland has around 16,000 floating structures and, by all accounts, one of the most robust histories of floating homes. Soon, Olthuis began working on multiple boats as owners commissioned him to bolt a rigid, concrete foundation connecting the vessels to create larger and larger habitable spaces.

He spent his time learning building codes and taking in the nuances of underwater design. His designs became so glamorous and so large that he began getting attention from architecture experts and fanatics for a different type of project, man-made islands, more specifically floating islands.

Up until recently there was only one way to make an island: dredging the sea floor to create new land and coastlines. The Palm Islands, built in 2014, in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Dubai, United Arab Emirates are the most famed example of this.

The Palm Islands, though a spectacular feat of human innovation, pose significant environmental and logistical challenges. Only a few years after the Palm Islands were built, there were reports of erosion: The islands seemed to be sinking back into the water. What’s more, the maintenance of these islands could mean severe consequences for the surrounding ecosystem.

Private Watervilla, The Netherlands

Courtesy of Dutch Docklands
“Unfortunately this has dire consequences for neighboring coral reefs as it increases the turbidity of the water, buries entire habitats, and can lead to their direct, albeit incidental, removal,” said Dr. Andrew Bruckner, the director and lead scientist of Coral Reef CPR.

“The dredging also alters natural current and water circulation patterns and can cause unnecessary erosion in areas upcurrent or downcurrent from the construction site. Many islands repeat this dredging process annually as the monsoon switches direction.”

The idea of a floating island was new for Olthuis. Translating your work from houseboats to living, breathing worlds is not a step that happens overnight. The transition came in 2008: The Maldivian people elected President Mohammed Nasheed, who pledged to keep the Maldives from the threat of climate change, the rising sea levels from melting polar icecaps and a warming planet.

Nasheed had a strong message: His country is sinking. The population of almost 370,000 could either become climate change refugees, or they could be climate change innovators.

Pinpointing the moment houseboats became floating islands is hard for Olthuis to remember, but the idea of helping to continue a culture started something. He met with President Nasheed and a new era began. Building and maintaining islands that are sustainable and eco-friendly could preserve both the integrity and the livelihood of the Maldives.

Olthuis began to work out the logistics and created a prototype that could be assembled in Holland, taken apart, shipped to a new location and then reassembled.

Floating islands are reassembled in underwater lagoons. The foundations can be concrete, steel or composite, depending on size and location, and are anchored with a strong cable, so they can move about a meter in each direction as needed. Though there is movement, springs are used as a stabilization tool, so standing on the surface feels as cemented as any other natural land mass. There is a flat, smooth surface underneath with no curved edges, so marine life can thrive. Through extensive research and trails, Olthuis found that round and pyramid shapes promote the most growth.

Amillarah, Private Island, The Maldives

Courtesy of Dutch Docklands
For a long time, most underwater architects focused only on the ecosystem on the surface of the island or structure. It was about making the environment as lush and as beautiful as possible, but it wasn’t the whole picture.

It took Olthuis until 2011 to realize that it was not just about the beauty of the surface — it runs deeper. Following the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona, Spain, Olthuis received a question in the audience from a journalist. Olthuis had just finished describing a new project that consisted of floating buildings with green landscapes throughout. The journalist raised his hand and asked, “Can an architect only design for people?”

This question completely changed the course of Olthuis’ life. He rethought the role of an architect, considering the responsibility and obligation to enhance the surrounding environment. His company, Waterstudio.NL, now leads with the motto, “green is good, blue is better.”

“Now, for each location you try and find out as much as possible about the current ecosystem and what you could possibly need to enhance the marine life: How to locally clean the water and what shapes make the flow of water flow naturally underneath it,” said Olthuis.

It’s about making the islands work, but not just for humans. In the past, Olthuis worked with pontoon boats in Holland to find ways to get rid of the underwater ecosystem that could chip away at the hull of a boat, but now his whole world was upside down.

“Floating islands don’t move,” said Olthuis said. “You want as much algae and shells to grow underneath these islands. We talk a lot with these experts about how they can make algae make it grow on these hulls. It’s reverse thinking.”

In August 2016, Olthuis and developer Dutch Docklands received a license to test their first island in the Maldives. They have a 100-year lease in a section of the Indian Ocean just outside the Maldivian island chain to test their floating islands. The first will be assembled and built by October 2017.

By 2019, Dutch Docklands will have invested millions of dollars and intends to have first 50 islands intact. Within the next decade, the company expects to have a total of 100 small islands.

The project was originally planned for August 2017, but, as Olthuis puts it, new clients mean new expectation. “Our clients are even more green than we are,” said Olthuis. “Our clients want to be completely off the grid. It was a challenge to make the change and develop, but we’re back on track.”

Dutch Docklands only commissioned the building of private islands known as Amillarah, which are to be sold to individuals through Christie’s in New York City. But, the technology can and should extend to create sustainable and environmentally friendly bio-reserves and new land for a culture that is sinking.

“This is just the beginning,” said Jasper Mulder, vice president of Dutch Docklands. “We will let the commercial project show that the construction can work and then work with the government to help the local community.”

If Dutch Docklands moves forward with floating islands as a social project, it is just one example of how humans, the market for luxury and sustainable products and the environment can all come to together to create a remarkable new beginning. Man may be able to have what we want and need without abusing our environment.

“In general, environmental impacts associated with the floating islands are likely to be much less severe than that associated with the continued land reclamation and dredging,” Dr. Bruckner said. “The creators behind this idea have given the environment significant forethought by placing these islands in areas that are likely to have the lowest environmental impact possible.”

Though hope for a sustainable, environmentally friendly option for the Maldivian people is strong, we still don’t know what the long-term effects will be.

“They are proposing to place these within lagoonal areas away from coral reefs. This does minimize the shading of reef systems, however it is likely to have a significant impact to these shallow lagoonal areas that provide critical nursery areas,” Dr. Bruckner continued. He is also concerned about what Dutch Docklands is proposing to do with sewage produced, as these are located within the lagoon, and discharge of sewage into the lagoon will seriously impact surrounding habitats through increased nutrients, and subsequent algal blooms. Olthuis has no concerns about the leftover sewage, however: He plans to treat the sewage water and use it promote plant and brush growth. The remaining sewage will be removed from the island on a monthly basis.

Until the floating surface is created, we won’t know its true impact on the surrounding environment, but both Dr. Bruckner and Olthuis agree that working with and for nature could be the answer.

Back in 2007, when Olthuis was not involved in the fate of this island nation, before his mission became designing islands underwater and above, he was asked to create a lush landscape and environment for Villa New Water, a residential property in Naaldwijk, The Netherlands. As a new architect and planner he believed the secret to success was to plan and organize every detail of a project. It had to be perfect.

In the midst of New Water’s production, he to visited a local friend who kept an unruly yet beautiful garden. Somehow the garden managed to heal itself through its chaotic patterns. It looked breathtaking compared to the typical residential garden, and Olthuis realized perfection was not natural — and his best work would be one guided by nature’s decisions.

To this day, the garden’s layout and idiosyncrasies stays with Olthuis. He believes nature always find an equilibrium, in spite of the human race.

“That is the point of these floating islands,” Olthuis said. “We’ll build the canvas and nature will fill it out.”

 Click here for the website

6 Modular Houseboat and Floating Home Manufacturers Around the World

By Michele Koh Morollo / Published by Dwell – September 20, 2017

If you’re bored of solid ground and want to try out a life on water, then these international companies will give you the tools you need to create your own floating home someplace new.
Take a look at the following six manufacturing companies across the globe that specialize in floating home design—and make sure to do your research to figure out all the pros, cons, rules, and regulations for this type of living.

No 1 Living – Czech Republic

Based in the Czech Republic, No 1 Living builds houseboats with an upper and lower deck and glazed interiors that take advantage of outdoor views. Founded in 2013, they offer two models of houseboats: the No1 Living 40-foot model and the larger No1 Living 47-foot model. Both are equipped with a kitchen, full bathroom, bedrooms, and generous storage space. The houses are built with durable, anticorrosion-protected steel and polyethylene-segmented floats, which guarantee excellent floatation.
Courtesy of No 1 Living

French company Farea manufactures floating homes that are certified as boats. This is important in France, as it means the houses are allowed in lakes, lagoons, and at sea. They’re about 915 square feet each and come with five twin cabins, three terraces, and a kitchen. The structures can produce their own water and electricity and are packaged in a 40-foot-long transportable container for international shipments.
Courtesy of Farea

With a background in engineering and technologically-advanced water leisure devices and equipment, Go Friday can help you plan and design a modular floating home that’s not only beautiful, but also environmentally sustainable and energy efficient. Their designs have a fixed width of approximately 20 feet and lengths that range from 32.8 to 59 feet. The shorter options are ideal for cozy studios, while longer options can fit three bedrooms.
Courtesy of Jose Campos Photography

SM Ponton – Slovakia

SM Ponton is a Slovakia-based designer and producer of modular, floating pontoon bases for houseboats and floating homes. Constructed with a reinforced-concrete structure that ensures maintenance-free durability and a Styrofoam core that makes the vessels unsinkable, the modules are connected together to form a rigid pontoon platform using locks at the mooring place. Architects and designers can then confidently build their homes on top of this platform.
Courtesy of Katarína Bako

Deutsche Composite – Germany

German manufacturers Deutsche Composite GmbH patented the composite construction material called RexWall, a lightweight construction concept that they’ve used in floating structures for more than a decade. Using RexWall sandwich panels, their Propeta series of houseboats are motored and fully licensed for cruising, and can weather waves, tidal changes, and frost. Interior fittings can be customized. The larger model called the Propeta P12, which is close to 40 feet long, can comfortably fit up to 10 beds.
Courtesy of Deutsche Composite GmbH

Waterstudio.Nl – the Netherlands

About 90 percent of the world’s largest cities are located along waterfronts. Koen Olthuis of Dutch architectural firm Waterstudio.NL believes that with climate change leading to drastic rises in sea levels, we’ll need to rethink how we live with water in the built environment. His team has designed sophisticated floating homes like Watervilla De Hoef and Watervilla IJburg in the Netherlands, and is working on masterplans for floating apartments, social housing developments, and even cities.
Courtesy of Pieter Kers

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