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Architects look to floating cities as sea levels rise

By Edwin Heathcote
Financial Times

Some argue that waterborne homes — and stadiums — could be a response to climate concerns

New York, London, Shanghai, Jakarta, Manila, Houston, Miami, Rio de Janeiro — all these cities and more are threatened by potential rises in sea level from climate change. Without dramatic action, in a century or less some of the world’s most expensive real estate could be under water. So it is unsurprising that architects and engineers are looking seriously at a future of floating cities. As often with water engineering, the Dutch are at the forefront. Living in a country which owes its existence to the struggle to find equilibrium with the sea, they are the pioneers of a small but increasingly important-looking architectural future. A short tram ride from central Amsterdam is IJburg, a well-planned suburb of decent housing and wide roads built on reclaimed land. At its edges the streets dissolve into jetties and houses sit on the water. One of the first large floating suburbs, it is an enticing vision of water living, with houses on concrete rafts and ducks swimming between. These are well-designed and built homes for city workers priced out of the centre of a city affected by gentrification, tourism and Airbnb-style rentals. Some houses are minimally modernist, others quirkily eccentric. Some look like suburban cottages on water, others like streamlined nautical hybrids, ready to sail away. One neighbourhood, Steigereiland, was built by architects Marlies Rohmer, an elegant Bauhaus dream of white walls, flat roofs, steel and glass. Could this be the future? Architect Koen Olthuis (“the Floating Dutchman”) has been at the forefront of floating design. “We love the water in Holland and we need to learn to see it as a tool,” he says. “I’ve seen floating architecture go from freak architecture to a real proposition. A hundred years ago the invention of the elevator allowed us to build vertically; now we need to understand water as an extra dimension for cities.” Mr Olthuis, whose Waterstudio practice has designed and built more than 200 floating buildings and who has plans for everything from entire cities to a football stadium, calls the floating metropolis a “blue city” and sees a four-stage process in its development. “They start in the city,” he says, “on the waterfront, where there is an established real estate market. Then they go into the sea but are still connected to the land via their energy and sewerage et cetera — which is an alternative to expensive land reclamation. The third phase is going into the sea, 1km into the water, but still connected, and the fourth is the self-supporting city in the sea with all its energy generated in the ocean.” What is the point of that? “I don’t know,” he laughs, “but rich people love the idea — an unregulated haven!” “We have 2bn people threatened by floods, these problems are in the cities right now.” Is this really a realistic solution to problems of urban overcrowding and resilience? “The big guys [the ‘starchitects’] are now showing idealistic cities in the ocean.” These are fantasies, he says, “but we have to group together as architects to make realistic proposals”. Mr Olthuis also worked on the Arkup, a “liveable yacht” launched last year in Miami. A luxury house with hydraulic legs which can be lowered to the seabed, it has solar power, desalination and a motor. He is also working on structures for the world’s slums, building a mobile platform in Bangladesh which uses waste plastic bottles for buoyancy. These will house toilets, internet stations, communal kitchens and other facilities. Floating architecture’s recent history has not all been plain sailing. Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi designed the Makoko floating school for a Lagos slum. It looked like the perfect project — worthy, elegant and innovative — but it was destroyed by a storm. The idea of a mobile floating architecture is among the more promising futures. Mr Olthuis has even designed a sports stadium. “A football stadium could be leased by a city,” he says. “Why spend all that money? Rent it, like a car.” Architect Alex de Rijke also raises flexibility. “Cities have master plans but plans change and one of their failures is their inability to adapt,” he says. “A floating city could be endlessly reconfigured.” His practice dRMM’s plans for a “Floatopolis” in London’s Docklands show a city of multistorey structures. It went from research project to possible commission but was not built. “The world’s cities are full of post-industrial waterfronts,” Mr de Rijke says. “We were looking at how you create a community, with schools, shops and most importantly density. “We have overpriced land in London, a restrictive planning system and the paradox of a low-density city.” The floating city idea, says Mr de Rijke, goes in a cycle of fashion, “like the tide coming in and going out”. It is a relatively expensive way to build, with prefabricated concrete rafts and high-specification components. But in big cities or densely populated countries such as the Netherlands or UK, where land is expensive, it can be an economical solution. As the technologies become more mainstream, costs will fall. Of course, city centre waterways are a finite resource — but they may be becoming much less finite soon. The tide is coming in.


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Amsterdam pioniert met duurzaam drijvende woonwijk

By Joyce Boverhuis


Dit jaar krijgt Amsterdam de meest duurzame drijvende woonwijk van Europa met de naam ‘Schoonschip’. Bouwen op het water is volgens deskundige Koen Olthuis een uitkomst.

Koen Olthuis is architect en eigenaar van Voor hem is bouwen op water bijna een religie. Hij gelooft in ‘the rise of the blue city’. Tokyo, Miami, Jakarta, Olthuis reist de wereld rond om steden te voorzien van advies over bouwen op water. Zijn motto: ‘Green is good, blue is better’.

Niet vechten tegen water

Olthuis: “Met de stijgende zeespiegel is het voor sommige steden veel veiliger om te bouwen op water. Daarnaast kan het water gebruikt worden voor duurzame verkoeling en verwarming.” Olthuis wijst ook op het gebrek aan bouwgrond in Nederland. “Er moeten jaarlijks honderdduizenden woningen bijkomen om de krapte op de woningmarkt op te vangen. In de stad is op land geen ruimte meer, dan moeten we toch gebruik maken van water?”

Olthuis verbaast zich erover dat we in Nederland zoveel energie steken in het wegpompen van water, terwijl we er ook óp kunnen wonen. “Bouwen op water heeft enorm veel voordelen. Huizen op water zijn verplaatsbaar, mee te draaien met de zon, aanpasbaar aan het seizoen. We vechten in Nederland tégen het water, maar waarom maken we er niet meer gebruik van?”

Milieubewuste verwarming

Remco de Boer is expert op het gebied van energietransitie. Hij zegt dat we ons in Nederland niet meteen zorgen hoeven te maken over overstroming door een stijgende zeespiegel. “We zijn een rijk land en kunnen ons wapenen, bijvoorbeeld door de bouw van nieuwe Deltawerken.”

Voor de veiligheid hoeven we wat De Boer betreft in Nederland niet uit te wijken naar bouwen op water. “Dat is natuurlijk anders in landen als Bangladesh.” De Boer ziet net zoals Olthuis wel dat water gebruikt kan worden voor een milieubewuste verwarming. Al hoeft het huis daarbij niet per se óp het water te staan.

Makkelijker vergunning krijgen

Aan enkele gezinnen die komen te wonen in de drijvende woonwijk ‘Schoonschip‘ in Amsterdam gaf Olthuis advies. Hij vindt het een prachtig project, maar heeft meteen ook wat geleerd over hoe bouwen op water beter kan in Nederland.

De locatie van de drijvende woonwijk ‘Schoonschip’

“Bouwen op water heeft drie voorwaarden. Je moet een plek hebben, de techniek in huis hebben – dat hebben we in Nederland zeker – en ook vergunningen kunnen krijgen. Wat dat laatste betreft is het in Nederland ontzettend lastig. Ik kan wel zeggen dat we daarin in Nederland zelfs achterlopen. Als we de trend van bouwen op water in Nederland een impuls willen geven moet dat echt makkelijker worden.”

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Koen Olthuis as keynote speaker for Plan-B at Pakhuis de Zwijger

Koen Olthuis was one of the keynote speakers at the discussion at PlanB at Pakhuisdezwijger.  He mentioned the Arkup as one of the answers on rising seas in this experst discussion “solutions for sealevelrise”.

The sea level is rising. Although the Dutch have been used to fighting water for centuries and are experts in raising dikes and constructing world-famous delta works, we must also discuss the other scenario. Given that international climate agreements are failing, can we still keep the water out in the future? And if not, are we prepared for that?

Koen Olthuis @ Pakhuis de Zwijger

Click here for the website and program of Pakhuis de Zwijger

Built on water: Floating Houses

By Ambista

Architects from New York to Shanghai are increasingly being confronted with the same problem: Too little space for too many people. The challenge of developing new habitable spaces within the city is not easy. Many architects, contractors and urban planners are tackling this situation with floating architecture.

The architects of Waterstudio.NL not only design floating houses in the luxury segment in the IJburg district of Amsterdam but also in the rest of the world. © Koen Olthuis – Waterstudio.NL

New living space on the water

Whether it’s Asia, the US or Europe, living space is becoming an important resource in the major cities of the world. Most cities have little room to grow in the central urban area and increasing rents are symptomatic of this crisis. Metropolitan regions in the immediate vicinity of water are trying to develop new living spaces with floating houses in response to the housing shortage.

Floating houses take care of two problems at once: They meet the demand for living space in large cities and also serve as flood protection. Coastal cities in particular are extremely affected by climate change and the resulting rise in sea level. They are therefore looking for new strategies to cope with the water and turn the disadvantage into an advantage.

Floating houses in Amsterdam

It is no wonder that the Netherlands is considered a pioneer when it comes to floating houses. Around a quarter of the country lies below sea level. For the Dutch, water has long been an important element of urban planning. Amsterdam is a major European city known worldwide for the many houseboats that create additional living space in the canals.

However, not only do the residents of Amsterdam live on the water in the city centre but also in the eastern part of the city. The new IJburg district was created here on artificially raised sand islands. In the first construction phase, a total of 18,000 apartments with living space for 45,000 people were created. The Waterbuurt district in the western section of IJburg was also planned at the same time – the Floating Houses IJburg project by Amsterdam-based Marlies Rohmer Architects & Urbanists.

Lacking a firm subsoil, the neighbourhood functions primarily with bridges and jetties, which provide access to the residences. Gardens are not allowed, but living close to the water makes up for it. A lock ensures that the inland sea on which the houses float is separated from the IJMeer. This prevents the apartments from drifting out to sea. The project was completed in 2011 and included both social housing and condos.

Architecturally, however, IJburg is still a long way from being fully developed. To the east, the “Water District” continues to grow. By 2020, the Dutch architectural firm Waterstudio.NL wants to complete around 380 additional apartments, offices, floating gardens and a restaurant. Everything is possible for the architects – from a bungalow to a three-storey residential building.

Amphibious houses on the Thames

Other countries, such as Great Britain, are also discovering water as additional living space. This is how the amphibious houses near Marlow on the Thames in Buckinghamshire came to be. The homes were designed by Baca Architects in London. When the tide is low, the house rests on the ground like a conventional building and can also float in the event of flooding.

This is made possible by a kind of dry dock made of reinforced concrete, which serves as the base of the house. As the floodwaters fill the trough, the house is buoyed up to the surface of the water. An anchoring system keeps it in position and buoyancy is ensured by air chambers under the floor.

Living on the water: The future is now

In Hong Kong and Macau, people have been living on the water for a long time – in jungle settlements consisting of old sailboats that have fallen into disuse. In the US, water communities also have a long tradition. Seattle has one of the largest collections of floating houses in Portage Bay and Lake Union. And Germans are also finding life on the water more and more attractive.

In Hamburg, for example, additional moorings for houseboats and floating houses are being built. The idea of floating architecture is no longer a vision of the future, it is a reality. People learn to live with water and use it for urban development. And not only in Europe or Asia, but throughout the entire world.

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Floating house & structure developers plan for ports & cities defense against higher sea levels & flooding

By Stas Margaronis

Source: Waterstudio


Sea level rise is magnifying the flood damage from hurricanes and storms  posing a growing threat to coastal communities around the world. In response, a growing number of flood and storm specialists as well as architects, home builders and developers are arguing that coastal cities need to be rebuilt for sea level defense.

The movement toward floating structures is growing and looking at how investing in sea level defense can also create new real estate development. The key is to inspire coastal cities and communities to build new houses, garages, farms and even cruise ship terminals (see rendering above) on the water.

Koen Olthuis, a Dutch architect of floating homes and structures who began his architectural firm Waterstudio in 2003, believes that floating structures can provide one component of the climate change adaptation strategy.

He argues that: “Waterstudio.NL is an architectural firm that has taken up the challenge of developing solutions to the problems posed by urbanization and climate change. Prognoses are that by 2050 about 70% of the world’s population will live in urbanized areas. Given the fact that about 90% of the world’s largest cities are situated on the waterfront, we are forced to rethink the way we live with water in the built environment. Given the unpredictability of future developments we need to come up with flexible strategies – planning for change. Our vision is that large-scale floating projects in urban environments provide a solution to these problems that is both flexible as well as sustainable.”

Olthuis says that political and business leaders as well as planners and urban development stakeholders need to start thinking about rebuilding their waterfronts with floating structures in mind: “A next step would be expanding (the) urban fabric beyond the waterfront: building normal urban configurations on water locations, with normal densities and usual typologies such as apartment-buildings, semi-detached housing, etc. Water-based neighborhoods that look and feel just like traditional land-based areas but just happen to have a floating foundation that allows them to cope with water fluctuations.” [1]

Olthuis, who is descended from a family of shipbuilders, notes that the offshore oil and gas industry provides a role model. Offshore drilling platforms suggest ways to build structures in the age of sea level rise: “There are many important lessons we can learn from the offshore oil and gas industry about building safe and sustainable houses in the water.”

Offshore drilling is more challenging than onshore drilling due to the lack of stability (particularly for floaters), the corrosive water environment, space constraints and the need for more complex logistics and support. Offshore drilling rigs are broadly divided into bottom-supported rigs and floaters.

Olthuis has been inspired by the jack-up rig which he uses in the design of a house. The jack-up rig allows for offshore deployment in shallow water:

Jack-up rigs are floated out to the drilling location, and they have retractable legs that are lowered down to the seafloor. Jack-up rigs can only work in water depths less than the length of their legs, typically limiting operations to less than 150 meters/500 feet. When drilling is completed, the legs are raised out of the water, and the rig becomes a floating barge that can be towed away (‘wet tow’) or placed on a large transport ship (‘dry tow’).”2

Source: Maersk

Another potential model is the Allseas Pioneering Spirit, a mega ship, which lifts and transports offshore drilling platforms to and from their foundations in the open sea. This shows that the technology already exists to transport  large structures like apartment buildings that could be built on land and transported onto pedestals in the water as the photo below suggests: 3

Source: Allseas



Olthuis has recently returned from Miami, Florida where he has designed a house that can float on the water or be raised above the water by an internal jack up system.

Olthuis says the hybrid floating and jack up house would provide the stability of a house on land with the versatility of being on water so as to compensate for sea level rises and storm water surges. He is looking at markets in Florida and New York for the new housing developments.



The Waterstudio design allows the homeowner to “live in comfort and luxury in total autonomy, and enjoy life between the sea, the sky and the city. Dock in a metropolitan marina or anchor in a tranquil bay.”



In the manner of a semi submersible oil rig with a propulsion system, the Waterstudio floating house is also self-propelled:



The design also contains a solar roof and batteries to make it largely energy self-sufficient:



However, Olthuis’ floating home “is not cheap and costs 5.5 million Euros (or about $6.1 million) to build, but it offers some elements that could help establish the foundation for floating houses, apartments and retail outlets being built in the water.”


As demand for cruise ship travel is on the increase, more ports are looking to build cruise ship terminals to attract tourism.

Waterstudio proposes to build floating passenger ship terminals that can reduce capital costs compared to building terminals on land. This creates the possibility for ports, that lack deep financial pockets, to access state-of-the-art cruise ship terminals at lower costs and with less permit approval delays. Please see the rendering above.

Olthuis says the floating cruise ship terminal concept can also provide temporary housing for an Olympic Games or World Cup soccer event. The cost of putting on special events can be reduced if floating structures are used that can be towed from venue to venue.

His idea is to build the terminal, support it with shopping and other amenities and berth several cruise ships so as to accommodate thousands of  floating bedrooms. Below is the floor plan:

Source: Waterstudio NL


As downtown areas become increasingly congested, Olthuis makes the case for floating parking garages.

McGregor, the maker of vessel hatch covers, built a floating garage in Sweden that was completed in 1991:

Floating parking structure, Gothenburg, Sweden Completed 1991. Client:  Municipality of Gothenburg, Sweden  Main particulars: Mooring and access equipment. The floating garage, the P-Ark, can hold more than 400 cars and can be relocated to respond to changing parking requirements. Certified: Lloyd’s Register (LR) Source: McGregor

McGregor argues that as land is limited in both urban areas and ports, the building of parking garages is increasingly constrained. A shallow draft, multi-story, floating parking garage offers an ideal solution to congestion problems.

The company says that “A floating car park requires minimal civil works on the quay side before it can be towed into position and put into use. Compared to building a fixed garage, there is very little disturbance to the surroundings and the unit can be re-located in the future, should the parking situation change… Our floating garages can be designed and painted to blend in with the surroundings, or the large exterior surfaces can feature graphics for advertising, thus generating additional income. All our floating car parks are tailored to suit the customer’s requirements.” [4]


For centuries, the Dutch have built up their cities and towns reclaiming land from the sea. At a time when land is scarce and expensive, they have also begun building houses and other structures on the water. In Amsterdam a new floating housing development generates new housing and new homeowners adding value to the existing community.

The Schoonschip floating community creates new value to an older neighborhood by adding 46 households and a community center on 30 floating platforms. Source: Schoonschip

The Schoonschip housing development is composed of structures floating in the water on concrete foundations that its builders say will be sustainable and alleviate the challenge from higher sea levels:

The water homes are well-insulated … and will not be connected to the natural gas network.

The heat will be generated by water pumps, which extract warmth from the canal water, and passive solar energy will be optimized.

Tap water will be heated by sun boilers in warm water pumps; all showers are equipped with installations that recycle the heat.

We are producing our own electricity with photovoltaic solar panels. Every household has a battery in which temporarily unneeded energy can be stored.

All water homes are connected to a communal smart grid. This smart grid makes it possible to trade energy efficiently amongst the households. 46 households will share only one connection to the national energy grid!

Gray water (i.e. washing machine) and black water (i.e. toilet) will be ‘flushed’ by a separate source of energy. Waternet will eventually include us in their pilot project, which delivers the toilet water to a bio-refinery, in order to ferment it and transform it into energy.

All homes will have a green roof covering at least one third of the roof’s surface.[5]

Sjoerd Dijikstra, a spokesman for the Schoonschip development, explained how the floating housing development works: “The Schoonschip … development in Amsterdam has been 10 years in the making.”

He works in the materials industry for a company called Metabolic and “so I went to all of the suppliers of materials we use for building our houses to check that we had the most sustainable materials free of harmful chemicals and carcinogens. “

Metabolic is a partner in developing the Schoonschip houses. It was founded by Eva Gladek, born and raised in New York City, who began her career as a molecular biologist.[6]

Dyjikstra notes that Schoonschip is building the floating houses “at an industrial area outside of Amsterdam and then the houses are taken from the land by crane and lowered into the water where they are towed by boat to the development site inside a small Amsterdam canal…. Several of the 30 floating units have been split into apartments so there are actually a total of 46 units altogether. Soon my wife and I will be living in our own floating home. People need to like the water for this type of life. You live closer to the elements of wind and water and when the wind blows you feel the waves gently rolling the house.  If you like the sea, it’s a great experience.”

He notes the floating houses are three stories high: “The bedrooms are located at the water line, the living room and kitchen and study in the second storey and an outdoor terrace on top.” The average home is 1,600 square feet and “will cost about 650,000 euros ( about $726,000) but this includes legal costs and the infrastructure to support the houses including electrical, water, sewage. The net cost would be about 450,000 euros (about $503,000). As we build more units the cost of construction will go down since we are sourcing our homes from a manufacturer who can reduce their costs with more unit construction and pass on some of the savings to the customer. I think there is a good chance of this since we have had a good public reaction and we have a long waiting list of people who want to order the floating homes.”

He noted that “We paid a great deal of attention to insulation and we used hemp to insulate the houses. The appliances are all electrical and we built an array of 33 solar panels to provide 10,000 kilowatts of electricity which is supported by a battery system to provide sustainable energy at night when the sun doesn’t shine. We also worked on air filtration so that the air you breathe is clean and free of emissions and chemicals.”

As housing is very expensive in Amsterdam,  “apartments are expensive and small we offer a good alternative for middle income people who want to live close to Amsterdam and still enjoy being on the water with a sustainably built house that is not overly expensive and will cost less as we build more units.”

The Schoonschip Foundation is headed by Peer de Rijk (chair), Siti Boelen (treasurer), Marjan de Blok (secretary and initiator) and Marjolein Smeele (general board member and architect). [7]


Source: Buoyant Foundation


In Louisiana, the Buoyant Foundation Project (BFP), was “founded in 2006 to support the recovery of New Orleans’ unique and endangered traditional cultures by providing a strategy for the safe and sustainable restoration of historic housing.”

The foundation says: “Retrofitting the city’s traditional elevated wooden shotgun houses with buoyant (amphibious) foundations could prevent devastating flood damage and the destruction of neighborhood character that results from permanent static elevation high above the ground.”

A buoyant foundation “is a type of amphibious foundation in which an existing structure is retrofitted to allow it to float as high as necessary during floods while remaining on the ground in normal conditions. The system consists of three basic elements: buoyancy blocks underneath the house that provide flotation, vertical guideposts that prevent the house from going anywhere except straight up and down, and a structural sub-frame that ties everything together. Utility lines have either self-sealing ‘breakaway’ connections or long, coiled ‘umbilical’ lines.  Any house that can be elevated can be made amphibious.”

Since 2006, the Buoyant Foundation says its mission “has broadened to apply not only to post-Katrina New Orleans but also to numerous other flood-sensitive locations around the world.  The Buoyant Foundation Project is a registered non-profit organization in the State of Louisiana. The team consists of students, professors, and alumni of the University of Waterloo (Canada) School of Architecture.”[8]

The project founder is Elizabeth English, associate professor at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture in Cambridge, Ontario. She was formerly associate professor – research at the Louisiana State University (LSU) Hurricane Center. When not in Canada she resides in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, where she continues her research on hurricane damage mitigation strategies with particular application to post-Katrina New Orleans.[9]


In the Port of Rotterdam, a floating concrete barge has been constructed that contains a floating dairy farm to produce milk, yogurt and other dairy products.

Floating farm under construction  at the Port of Rotterdam


A report in the American Journal of Transportation quoted Minke van Wingerden, a partner at Beladon BV – the floating farm builder, as saying that the original idea for the farm came from a visit to New York after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

At that time, she and her husband, Peter van Wingerden, saw that food supplies were disrupted for days in the New York and New Jersey areas after the hurricane hit. Flooding and road damage prevented trucks from making deliveries. This food supply and transportation disruption has been repeated during Hurricanes Katrina, Maria and mostly recently with Hurricane Michael in Florida in 2018.

The van Wingerdens began researching ways to improve food deliveries during such emergencies. Originally, they focused on supporting more urban or rooftop gardens, but instead shifted to a popular trend in the Netherlands to offset limited and expensive land by building floating houses and offices.

So, they decided to build a floating farm.

The floating farm, Minke van Wingerden said, can adapt to changes in the climate and be hurricane-resistant.

“You go up and down with the tide, or the water, and it has no influence on your food production, so you can still make fresh food in the city,” she said.

“During our research, we saw that many cities are built on or near the sea and along rivers and deltas just as we see here in the Netherlands. This gave us the idea for the floating dairy farm so that the food supply could be brought closer to cities and consumers using floating structures.”

Privately, while they applaud the innovation, some people in Rotterdam think that the dairy products from the floating farm will cost too much and will not compete with land-based dairy farms.

Van Wingerden concedes that the cost of producing milk products will be higher from a floating farm than from a land-based farm.

However, she argues that the Beladon floating farm will be located close to Rotterdam consumers, reducing transportation costs and providing fresher products with faster delivery times.

The added advantage is that the floating farm will have a much smaller CO2 foot print than conventional farms: “We will use solar panels to power the farm and use rain water from the roof to supplement our water supply.”

To reduce the environmental impact further: “We will be using existing food waste to feed our cows. There is a brewery nearby so we will use the beer broth that is a product of brewing beer and feed it to our cows. They love it. Another source of food for the cows is potato peels from a food processor. In both cases these waste products would be burned or dumped onto a garbage disposal site. Instead, we feed the product to our cows.”

She hopes that companies like Amazon, and its Whole Foods subsidiary, will find that the Beladon floating farm fits into their fast delivery and organic food business model: a new technological creation to source dairy and other farm products requiring only an urban pier base of operations.

Van Wingerden said the floating farm is estimated to cost 2.6 million Euros (about $2.9 million). Its dimensions are 30 meters by 30 meters or 89 feet by 89 feet.

The structure is built on a concrete floating base. The second deck is composed of a kitchen to mix the feed for the cows, a processing facility for milk and yogurt products and a shop to sell the milk products. The top deck will be the pasture for forty cows that is connected by a bridge to allow the cows to walk off the farm and on to a land-based pier space for more walk-around space.

Van Wingerden describes the floating farm as “a floating laboratory” for developing new food supplies closer to cities on sea coasts or adjoining rivers and lakes.

She believes Asia will be a major market for the floating farm because many cities are located close to a body of water. There, she sees China as a major market, not just because of the large population living by the coast, but also because of the cities located along rivers such as the Yangtze.

Beladon is also looking at markets in Europe and North America, especially along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Floating farms can help address rising demand for food by bringing farm production closer to consumers and providing sustainable advantages that lower the carbon foot print and provide an organic food product.

Beladon believes these advantages will mitigate the lower cost advantage of larger land-based farms, which rely on trucking and diesel-powered harvesting.[10]


The movement toward floating structures is growing and looking at how investing in sea level defense can also create new real estate development. The key is to inspire coastal cities and communities to build new houses, garages, farms and even cruise ship terminals (see rendering above) on the water.

The Netherlands, with its long history of reclaiming land and building dikes to defend against the sea, has now begun to build more floating structures that increase commercial value so as to offset the costs of sea level defense.

The Dutch example influenced the Buoyant House project’s investment into floating houses as a defense against flooding and sea level rise for coastal communities in Louisiana and around the world

Cities need to begin investing in new floating developments now, Koen Olthuis argues, or they will be threatened by rising seas and storm surges.

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














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Duurzaamste drijvende woonwijk van Europa ligt in Amsterdam

By: AD
Nederland en de wereld


In de rubriek Nederland en de wereld van het AD is het project Schoonship uitgelicht waar Waterstudio bij betrokken is geweest.

Duurzaamste drijvende woonwijk van Europa ligt in Amsterdam

De duurzaamste drijvende woonwijk van Europa ligt in Amsterdam en is bijna af. Toekomstige bewoner Matthijs Bourdez geeft een rondleiding en laat zien wat zijn woning zo duurzaam maakt.

De video is te zien zien via deze link.



First floating duplex-house Schoonschip arrived at its location in Amsterdam

Schoonschip, the new and sustainable floating neighborhood in Amsterdam is now filling up with the waterhomes. A lot of different designers and architects brought here their concepts to live. Waterstudio was happy to help 4 families with realizing their dreams of living beyond the waterfront. A fantastic time lapse video was shot by Isabel Nabuurs Productie. This show the arrival and mooring of the first structures.

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Construction in progress Floating Duplex in Amsterdam

This floating duplex building designed by Waterstudio is now under construction. The images below show the progress. The building will be built up on land, later the whole element will be placed in the water and shipped to its location in Amsterdam. The images show perfectly the floating base and the superstructure. This floating structure will be cladded with different patterns of wood, as in a patchwork.

We will keep you updated!

How floating architecture could help save cities from rising seas

By Kate Baggaley



From New York to Shanghai, coastal cities around the world are at risk from rising sea levels and unpredictable storm surges. But rather than simply building higher seawalls to hold back floodwaters, many builders and urban planners are turning to floating and amphibious architecture — and finding ways to adapt buildings to this new reality.

Some new buildings, including a number of homes in Amsterdam, are designed to float permanently on shorelines and waterways. Others feature special foundations that let them rest on solid ground or float on water when necessary. Projects range from simple retrofits for individual homes in flood zones to the construction of entire floating neighborhoods — and possibly even floating cities.

“It’s fundamentally for flood mitigation, but in our time of climate change where sea level is rising and weather events are becoming more severe, this is also an excellent adaptation strategy,” says Dr. Elizabeth English, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture in Ontario. “It takes whatever level of water is thrown at it in stride.”


From ground level, amphibious houses look like ordinary buildings. The key difference lies with their foundations, which function as a sort of raft when the water starts to rise.

In some cases, existing homes can be retrofitted with amphibious foundations to give people in flood-prone areas a less costly alternative to moving or putting their homes on stilts, says English, founder of Buoyant Foundation Project, a nonprofit based in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana and Cambridge, Ontario. “What I’m trying to do is to take existing communities and make them more resilient and give them an opportunity to continue to live in the place that they’re intimately connected to,” she says.

There are also new constructions built with amphibious foundations, such as a home designed by Baca Architects on an island in the River Thames in Marlow, England. When waters are low, the house rests on the ground like a conventional building; during floods, it floats on water that flows into a bathtub-shaped outer foundation.

Amphibious architecture isn’t about to displace conventionally designed buildings. But experts say it could become the norm in parts of Virginia, Louisiana, Alaska, and Florida, and other areas that are vulnerable to rising seas. “For some communities this might be a saving grace,” says Illya Azaroff, director of design at New York-based +LAB Architect PLLC and an associate professor of architecture at the New York City College of Technology.


Other architects are taking things a step further and building on the water itself. The Netherlands is a hotspot for such floating construction. Waterstudio, a Rijswijk-based architecture firm, recently designed nine floating homes for the town of Zeewolde. The homes look a bit like oversized floating houseboats.

Waterstudio has also designed a number of floating homes for Amsterdam’s IJBurg neighborhood. Soon these will be joined by a floating housing complex designed by the Dutch firm Barcode Architects and the Danish firm Bjarke Ingels Group. When construction is completed in 2020, the complex will have 380 apartments as well as floating gardens and a restaurant.

Floating buildings and neighborhoods are not a new idea, of course. Vietnam and Peru, among other countries, have had floating communities for centuries. But floating architecture could allow cities around the world to grow and evolve in new ways, says Waterstudio founder Koen Olthuis.

Olthius envisions cities with floating office buildings that can be detached and rearranged as needed. “It can be that you come back to a city after two or three years and some of your favorite buildings are in another location in that city,” he says, adding that buildings might be moved close together to conserve heat and separated when summer arrives.


Floating architecture can do more than prevent flood damage. By allowing the construction of buildings over water, it can give cities additional room to grow. Waterstudio is collaborating with developer Dutch Docklands on a planned community in the Maldives that will include 185 floating villas. The flower-shaped development will have restaurants, shops, and swimming pools.

The firms are also collaborating in the Maldives to build private artificial islands that will be anchored to the seafloor. The idea is to provide new places to live for residents of the low-lying islands, which are at risk of being swallowed up by rising seas. “We will let the commercial project show that the construction can work and then work with the government to help the local community,” Jasper Mulder, vice president of Dutch Docklands, told Travel + Leisure.


The islands are also meant to offer a sheltered new habitat for marine life.

There are also plans for entire floating cities. The Seasteading Institute, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, hopes to attract 200 to 300 residents for a floating village scheduled for completion in the waters off Tahiti by 2020. Homes and other buildings in the community will be constructed atop a dozen or so floating platforms connected by walkways. Eventually, the institute hopes to create communities built from hundreds of platforms with millions of residents.

“I don’t know if amphibious or floating architecture will go that far, but it is within the realm of possibility,” Azaroff says. “The overarching goal is to, one, keep people safe and, two, to allow the natural cycles to continue. Floating architecture allows you to do that in a really profound way that we didn’t have before.”

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Waterstudio published in “Floating Houses- Living over the water”

Floating Houses –  Living over the water

Two projects of Waterstudio are published in the book “Floating Houses –  Living over the water”.

Waterstudio.N L www.waterstudio.n1 Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands Photos © Architect Koen Olthuis – Waterstudio.NL

Villa `Ijburg’ – plot 13

This design was done for an Amsterdam urban expansion site where one specific area was designated to have only floating houses. As with the other dwelling for this same area, limitations in the building outline were strict, forcing the design to be clear and powerful’ within these regulations. Pushing the regulations which only allowed half of the top storey to be used. This design quite literally took the complete rectangular outline of the building envelope as a frame in which transparent facades were placed. Within the frame the several functions were placed, defining where the glass paneling should be transparent or closed. The top storey still only occupies half of the floor surface, but the white frame now encloses the remaining outside terrace, visually completing the basic and almost austere volume. Within the frame, glass panels were used with several slightly different colours, adding some subtlety to the scheme.

The lower floor, which is partly beneath waterlevel. contains the bedroom, a bathroom with sauna, as well  as some storage and a study-rooms. On the ground  floor, where the entrance is situated, two blocks in  the layout create an, entrance hallway, and close off  the stairwell, leaving the rest of the surface almost  completely open. The blocks contain the toilet, storage  space, and kitchen equipment. The whole of the floor  is used as a large living-kitchen. On the upper floor the volume containing the living-room was given a curved outline, which give a little playfulness to the otherwise I is geometric appearance.

Waterstudio.N L Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands Photos © Architect Koen Olthuis – Waterstudio.NL

Villa jjburg’ – plot 3

This plan was designed for an urban water-development area in Amsterdam. Strict limitations of the building envelope and 2,5 storeys,, while maximizing effective floor space for the principal, forced the designers to, come up with a strong architectural principle that organized the dwelling with only modest means. The location at the end of the pier, where the view should be focused on the water while shielding off the dwelling from adjacent houses, provided the initial starting point. The architectural concept comprises of two basic shapes, filled in with glass panels. The main volume is enveloped by a white stucco slab that runs along the le storey floor, covers the entire back wall and roof, forming a continuous line that frames the living area and the open view. This simple yet elegant shape is complemented by a second shape in wood formed by the terrace floor and curving up to form the banister. Together, these two simple gestures define a distinct, almost iconic appearance.

On the lower floor, which is partly below waterlevel, three bedrooms and the bathroom are situated. The ground floor is largely an open layout where only the toilet and some storage space separate the entrance area from the main space. Two large swinging doors can be used to close off the hallway. A neatly designed cupboard containing television is the only main element in the open space. Behind this, two stairs lead to the lower storey and to the working-area on the top floor. The ceiling of the living room is made in the same wood as the outside shape to really carry through the concept of the two curved shapes making up the dwelling.

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