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Our buildings can’t withstand extreme weather — these new structures could save lives

Business Insider
By Leanna Garfield

In the span of four weeks during August and September, hurricanes HarveyIrma, and Maria brought extreme rainfall and 100-mph winds to the US and the Caribbean, destroying thousands of houses and businesses in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere.

It’s unclear whether climate change caused these storms, but atmospheric scientists say a warmer planet likely made them more aggressive.

Across the globe, architects and developers are planning for a future when storms and other climate-related disasters become more common. Many are thinking about climate resilience — the idea that buildings should be designed to endure the impact of sea-level rise, increasing temperatures, and climate disasters.

Building designers no longer see climate change as a far-off prospect. To cope with rising waters and powerful storms, some are designing buildings to withstand them.

Following are some of the building designs of the future.

Instead of fighting against flooding and storm surges, some architects believe that cities should live in harmony with water. In other words, we should build more structures on water, rather than land.

Proponents of floating architecture say that sea-level rise is a reality that cities should accept and prepare for. The Netherlands has more than half its landmass below sea level.

“We can expect more flooding in the future,” Waterstudio CEO Koen Olthuis said.

“It’s not about technology — it’s about rethinking cities. We should start building for change. Most cities, like Miami, Tokyo, and New York City, see water as a threat. We see it as an asset.”

A decade ago, Waterstudio began designing floating houses that have the same look and feel as traditional houses.

In 2011, Marlies Rohmer Architecture constructed a floating neighborhood in Amsterdam with 75 houses that bob with water levels. Other architects have recently devised floating greenhousesmovie theaters, and schools.

Photo: Friso Spoelstra

Founded in 2003, the Netherlands-based firm Waterstudio has designed and constructed more than 200 floating buildings.

Some, like the one pictured, are amphibious. They are located right on the coast, sometimes on dry land, sometimes on water.

Amphibious houses, which can elevate as high as four feet when water flows underneath, have a foam base that’s wrapped in a layer of concrete and connected to steel cables secured to the ground.

Other Waterstudio buildings are designed to be completely on the water.

Their concrete foundations are buoyed to cables that attach to the ocean floor. Most can withstand Category 4-force winds. If water levels rise, so do the houses, similar to boats. Waterstudio’s philosophy is that instead of fighting the water, cities should just let it pass. “A ‘blue city’ takes advantage of the water. Building on the water is safe from floods, and it’s flexible. You can move structures in different configurations and from city to city,” said Koen Olthuis, Waterstudio’s CEO.

The largest challenge for the company has been persuading cities to advocate for amendments to building codes so that the company’s houses are recognized as normal houses instead of houseboats.

In December, the company debuted floating micro-units made from shipping containers, which serve as classrooms, health clinics, and sanitary facilities in Bangladesh.

Waterstudio recently completed a small floating neighborhood of five houses in the Netherlands. Olthuis anticipates building a floating neighborhood with 10,000 houses within the next five years.

The team is also working on a floating villa and a floating hotel in Dubai, and a floating wildlife habitat tower in Dianchi Lake, near Kunming, China, all set to be completed in 2018.

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Koen Olthuis bij WNL Op Zondag, 4 februari 2018

Feb. 4 2018

De zondag begint met Rick Nieman. Met nieuws, vrolijke kwesties en prominente gasten. Partijleider Henk Krol van 50Plus strijdt tegen de aflosboete. Anna Dijkman over de nieuwe serie Stand van Nederland. Jeroen van Koningsbrugge en Dennis van de Ven over politieserie Smeris. Architect Koen Olthuis met een fascinerend verhaal over drijvende steden.

Project Waterrocks Zeewolde (fase 1)

Seminar: The Floating Future: Life at Sea


With an increasing population and a rising sea level there is a growing need for energy production, food production, floating ports and living space at sea.  “The Floating Future” is a seminar about the development of large floating islands to support these activities.

We would like to invite you and/or your colleagues to join us in discussions about the floating future. Ongoing work and new project initiatives for open innovations at sea will be presented. For this seminar we have invited a wide group of companies, research institutes and authorities from various disciplines. Waterstudio will be one of the participating companies. The objective is to build new connections and to spark the beginning of the floating future.

Koen Olthuis will present his presentation “Rise of the Blue City” from 11:30 till 12:00.


The seminar is free of charge, please register before March 1st, 2018:

Please click here to register



Fletcher Hotel-Restaurant De Wageningsche Berg
Generaal Foulkesweg 96
6703 DS Wageningen
Click here for the website of the location


More information and updates of the programme, click here


Waterstudio at BBC


Are floating homes the next frontier for urban design?

Architecture that works with water, rising with floods and sitting upon unused city space, may be the future of urban planning, say these innovative designers.
Buildings and communities that can float on water may be the next step in the evolution of cities, according to some avant-garde housing designers.

Many of the world’s largest cities sit next to, or are built around, large bodies of water. In the light of unprecedented population growth, climate change, flooding and rising sea levels, are floating homes the next frontier in urban living?

Watch the video to see two leading architecture firms describe their innovative concepts for life on water.

Click here to see the video

Parthenon, The Floating Sea Wall

Inhabitat, Tafline Laylin, December 2015

Certain world leaders might be dragging their feet on addressing climate change, but in the meantime, Koen Olthuis and the rest of the Waterstudio crew are working on solutions that we can use today. The Blue energy floating sea wall is a floating breakwater that doubles as an energy generator. Called The Parthenon, the floating breakwater not only stems the crash of water pushing into a harbor, but harvests the tremendous energy a wall of water like that can generate.

Waterstudio used the Hudson River to illustrate their new design’s function. “In a harbour on the Hudson river in New York the wave conditions are so strong that a sea wall must protect its boats. The strong current in the river is constantly attacking it and water is pushing itself against and through the fixed wall, which results in more corrosion of the sea wall every year.”

The floating sea wall acts as a permeable breakwater that converts the wave power into electrical energy while reducing the waves’ impact on the harbor at the same time. “The floating breakwater lives with the force of the river instead of fighting it,” they told Inhabitat in an email.

Related: Aquatect Koen Olthuis tells Inhabitat how to embrace rising sea levels

The columns of the sea wall are comprised of 3-foot cylinders that rotate – both clockwise and counter clockwise – at low speed. The energy created by this rotation is then captured in a concrete box inside the floating platform. The cylinders are filled with water to give the structure flexibility without affecting in any way the efficacy of the wall in reducing the wave’s impact on the harbor. The whole thing is then anchored to the riverbed, and the top can double as an urban green space or boulevard.

“The Parthenon blue energy sea wall resembles the column structure of the famous ancient temple in Greece,” according to Waterstudio, “but divers see it as a part of the sunken city of Atlantis.”

Click here for the full article

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Floating villas Waterrocks Zeewolde on sale

Floating Villas Waterrocks are on sale. These 9 villas located in Zeewolde all have an unique waterview. For more information:

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Project Waterrocks Zeewolde

Balance d’eau ontwikkelt 9 luxe, door Waterstudio.NL onder architectuur ontworpen, drijvende woningen in de Blauwe Diamant, Zeewolde.

U heeft rondom waterbeleving met vrij uitzicht over het water en weilanden.
De woning heeft een eigen ligplaats met verbinding naar diverse recreatie vaarroutes.
De ruime tuin met berging biedt tevens ruimte voor parkeren op eigen terrein.
Een unieke locatie voor drijvend wonen centraal gelegen in Nederland!
U wordt eigenaar van het perceel en de drijvende woning naar uw keuze.

In principe is dit min of meer hetzelfde als een landkavel, alleen de woning drijft en is afgemeerd aan meerpalen.
De woningen voor het project, Waterrocks de blauwe diamant, zijn ontworpen door Waterstudio.NL uit Rijswijk.
Het bureau, geleidt door Koen Olthuis, is al sinds 2002 gespecialiseerd in architectuur en stedenbouw op en aan het water. In 2007 Olthuis stond op nr 122 van de Time Magazine lijst met meest invloedrijke mensen in de wereld, door de wereldwijde interesse in zijn waterontwikkeling. Het Franse magazine Terra Eco koos hem als een van de 100 “groene” personen die de wereld gaan verbeteren in 2011. In 2015 hij is geselecteerd bij een internationale jury als een van de vijftig jonge vernieuwers van de 21ste eeuw in het boek “50Under50”. Bouwen op water is Olthuis levenswerk en hij is internationaal ook wel bekend als de “Floating Dutchman”.

U heeft nu de kans om in een echte Waterstudio woning te wonen!

Koen Olthuis: “De waterwoningen in de Blauwe Diamant hebben zijn voor ons heel bijzonder, wij zien de drijvende woning als een “normale” woning op een drijvende fundering. In dit project komt dit goed naar voren, een stevige ruime woning, een grote tuin en de sfeer van het leven op het water. Solid as a Waterrock!”

U heeft al een kavel met hierop een complete waterwoning type Waterrocks 1 voor € 399.500,- VON inclusief BTW.

Het Balance d’eau bouwconcept
De basis bestaat uit een robuuste drijvende betonnen kelderbak welke prefab wordt geproduceerd. De constructie van de opbouw is licht van gewicht, hoog geïsoleerd, stijf en sterk.


Een nieuwe woning is één van de belangrijkste beslissingen van uw leven. U moet kunnen vertrouwen op de kwaliteit. Dit is bij een drijvende woning niet anders dan bij een landwoning.
Mede omdat de Balance d’eau woningen uit prefab elementen op locatie worden geassembleerd is de bouwkwaliteit, het afwerkingsniveau en het wooncomfort van hoog niveau.


Wonen op het water geeft een gevoel van vrijheid en natuurbelevening. Met het vrije uitzicht over het water en de mogelijkheid om vanuit uw eigen ligplaats met een bootje weg te kunnen varen ervaart u dit in project Waterrocks in de overtreffende trap. Elke dag voelt als een vakantiedag!
Optimaal wooncomfort
Met een speciaal ontwikkeld computerreken- en simulatiemodel wordt het ontwerp uitgebalanceerd en ligt het zwaartepunt zo laag dat de woning stabiel in het water ligt en ook bij harde wind nauwelijks beweegt. Zodoende kan het wooncomfort wedijveren met luxe landwoningen.
Het bouwsysteem heeft een hoge isolatiewaarde. Hierdoor is het energieverbruik laag en voldoet het systeem aan de laatste EPC normen van het bouwbesluit.
Optioneel is zelfs een innovatieve warmtewisselaar mogelijk die de energie opgeslagen in het oppervlaktewater gebruikt om de woning te verwarmen, een innovatie op energiebesparing!


Neem bij interesse contact op met ZO makelaars –
Ook kunt u op afspraak de voorbeeldwoning te Delft bezoeken om de bouwkwaliteit, het wooncomfort, maar bovenal de meerwaarde van het vrije wonen op water te ervaren.


Zeewolde, Natuurlijk centraal in Nederland

Zeewolde ligt centraal in Nederland. Het centrum van Amsterdam of Utrecht ligt op nog geen 50 km afstand.
Zeewolde is een watersport paradijs met heerlijk zwemwater, idyllische vaarten en tochten om per boot of kano te verkennen. Vandaar dat de waterwoningen ruimte bieden voor een eigen ligplaats!
Aan de langgerekte Veluwerandmeren vind je een eindeloos lange kustlijn, Zeewolde heeft het grootste zoetwater ‘binnenstrand’ van Nederland! Nieuw is het eiland in de vorm van een tulp.


In het centrum van Zeewolde kunt u heerlijk winkelen en even genieten op een gezellig terras waar je vele restaurants, cafés, terrassen, winkels en boetiekjes vindt. Overzichtelijk en modern ingericht en alles op loopafstand.
Zeewolde biedt vele kilometers gemarkeerde en ongemarkeerde wandelroutes, langs het water of door de bossen en uitgestrekte ruige natuurgebieden zoals De Stille Kern.
Het Horsterwold en Hulkesteinse Bos vormen een van de grootste aaneengesloten loofbossen van West-Europa, waar vele bijzondere dieren en planten voorkomen zoals bevers, zeearenden en wilde Konikpaarden.


Projectfase: bouw gestart
Start verkoop: december 2016
Start bouw: juni 2017
Verwachte oplevering: december 2017


Van de 9 huizen in dit project zijn er nog 25 beschikbaar

Waterrocks 1

Vrijstaande woning€ 399.500 v.o.n.

woonoppervlakte113 m² woonopp.
aantal kamers4 kamers
8 huizen beschikbaar

Waterrocks 2

Vrijstaande woning€ 406.400 v.o.n.

woonoppervlakte113 m² woonopp.
aantal kamers4 kamers
8 huizen beschikbaar

Waterrocks 3

Vrijstaande woning€ 408.000 v.o.n.

woonoppervlakte113 m² woonopp.
aantal kamers1 kamer
8 huizen beschikbaar

Waterrocks 5

Vrijstaande woning€ 449.500 v.o.n.

woonoppervlakte113 m² woonopp.
aantal kamers1 kamer

Interview of the The New York Times with Koen Olthuis


A Dutch Architect Offshores the Future of Housing

Floating houses in Amsterdam designed by Koen Olthuis. Mr. Olthuis’s architectural firm, Waterstudio, which he founded in 2003, has completed more than 200 floating homes and offices. CreditFriso Spoelstra/
RIJSWIJK, The Netherlands — Early next year when a converted cargo container on a floating foundation of plastic bottles opens on the flood-prone shores of Korail Bosti, Bangladesh’s largest slum, few of its users are likely to celebrate the 320-square-foot space as a revolution. Yet, according to Koen Olthuis, the lead architect on the project, it is part of the greatest transformation in urbanism since Elisha Otis built the safety brake that gave rise to the modern elevator, skyscrapers and ultimately urban density.

“It will change the DNA of cities,” Mr. Olthuis said of the technology at the heart of his designs in an interview in his studio, a converted supermarket in this suburb of The Hague that also serves as his business headquarters.

In an era when the needs of growing urban centers are changing rapidly and rising sea levels threaten waterside construction, Mr. Olthuis has been busy working on a solution: the floating building.

Mr. Olthuis founded Waterstudio — which he describes as the first modern architecture firm to exclusively build floating houses — in 2003. More than a decade on, he and his team consider themselves pioneers in a growing movement. The firm has completed more than 200 floating homes and offices, many of them in the Netherlands, where several floating neighborhoods have sprung up in the last decade.

The team’s designs have gone global, with showcases ranging from exclusive floating islands in Dubai and the Maldives for the superrich, to more modest designer homes in Europe and the United States, to projects like the floating container, called City App, that will serve as an education center in the poorest neighborhoods in Asia.

A rendering of a floating private island that can be moved around to suit the owner’s and Amillarah Private Islands
Mr. Olthuis was a candidate for Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in 2007, and he has been described as a visionary in the media. The BBC dubbed him the “Floating Dutchman” when featuring his plan to build a floating block in Naaldwijk, the Netherlands.

“He was really one of the first architects who saw that building on water could develop a whole new design language,” said Tracy Metz, an American journalist based in the Netherlands and a co-author of “Sweet & Salt: Water and the Dutch” (2012).

Although live-aboard boats and then houseboats have existed for centuries, the modern floating house is a relatively recent invention, with new materials and methods allowing for full-height construction without the loss of stability or the risk of intruding moisture.

The buildings are constructed on a floating foundation (sometimes stabilized by fixed stilts), which makes them flood-proof, affordable and independent of expensive real estate, although obtaining building permits can be tricky.

Perhaps most important for the slums of Dhaka, the units — which can house amenities like internet terminals, toilets and showers, large-scale water filtration, medical clinics, community kitchens and workshops — can be moved easily to where they are needed most.


Koen Olthuis

“If I were to build only floating islands for the wealthy, I would only make 150 happy people in the next 20 years,” said Mr. Olthuis, 45, who is the grandson of both an architect and a shipbuilder. “If we use this technology also to upgrade slums, we can change the lives of millions.”

As for most of Waterstudio’s other clients, the top draws are the crisp, elegant and open designs, the water views, and — for those with pockets deep enough — the optional private beaches.

The first units of his high-end Oceana project in Dubai are to be delivered next summer. For the project, Mr. Olthuis and Dutch Docklands, the development firm he co-owns, are designing and building 33 islands of 11,000 square feet that support custom-built villas of up to 5,500 square feet each, at an estimated total project cost of $170 million.

The villas themselves resemble smaller houses he has designed in the Netherlands. With open spaces and barely-there transitions between the indoors and the outdoors, his designs are airy, light and modern. The undersides of the islands are equipped with anchor points for marine life that resemble holds on artificial climbing walls, leading to a collaboration with Ocean Futures Society, established by Jean-Michel Cousteau, the son of the explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Christie’s real estate, which is acting as a broker for the units, notes that they can be transported around the globe. Depending on the level of customization and enhancements, the islands will sell for an estimated $5 million.

A rendering of City App, a floating cargo container that can be used to deliver essential services to areas in crisis.
For those on a tighter budget, Mr. Olthuis is set to help reconvert on-the-water living spaces in Weehawken, N.J., just south of the Lincoln Tunnel, on the Hudson River. The first phase of the project focuses on “livable yachts,” which are scheduled to go on the market late next year for slightly less than nearby condos, according to Steve Israel, the developer.

In Bangladesh, the City App aims to bring services to the most affected areas of a large and flood-prone slum. It is the first time Mr. Olthuis has brought his ideas to bear in development work and is almost entirely funded by a foundation he set up that receives funding from Dutch partners.

The floating structure that will pioneer the program was built this year in a yard in Helmond in the south of the Netherlands, nearly 5,000 miles from Dhaka, and features two rows of computers and benches. Four other models are now being built to bring other urgently needed services to Dhaka, although none of the units will consist of actual dwellings.

While he is mostly known in design circles for his open glass constructions, Mr. Olthuis sees a broader mission. He is also an academic member of the flood resilience group at Unesco-IHE in Delft, a water research institute.

In his version of the future, cities will make better use of their water surfaces. In some cases, they will have no choice. Mr. Olthuis envisions public buildings like schools, stadiums and even parks being moved to different waterside neighborhoods according to need.

“In 20 years,” he said, “cities are going to be different than today.”

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