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Latin American Congress Of Steel Frame Sao Paulo Brazil

Last week, Waterstudio participated in the 6th Congress LATAM On Steel Frame and Constructive Systems in Brazil, where we focused on addressing challenges through floating architecture.

Koen Olthuis presented the path towards floating cities in his talk titled, from Myth to Marble, while our colleague Anna Vendemia discussed the role of floating architecture in addressing social and bioclimatic issues. She drew from our impactful initiatives, such as City Apps for Wet slums and the Bihar Fellowship Program.

Meeting Vasco Rodrigues, Deputy Consul General of the Netherlands in São Paulo, emphasized the importance of global collaboration for sustainable solutions.

We extend our sincere gratitude to the organizers in São Paulo, the speakers, and all the attendees for contributing to the success of this event. Waterstudio is deeply committed to shaping a sustainable future through innovative architecture, and we look forward to future opportunities to share our message on other influential platforms. Let’s work together to inspire change and create a greener, more sustainable world!

These floating buildings are made from thousands of plastic bottles that can withstand flooding

By Lenna Garfield
Business Insider
Photo Credits:Waterstudio


Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world when it comes to flooding, storms, and impact from sea level rise.

In 2016, Bangladesh experienced four cyclones – a record number in the country’s recent history. And by 2050, sea level rise could inundate 17% of its land and displace up to 18 million people in Bangladesh, according to Atiq Rahman, the nation’s leading climate scientist.

Extreme weather events already flood many homes, schools, and commercial buildings every year.

An Amsterdam-based architecture firm called Waterstudio has come up with one possible solution: floating structures that can withstand storms.

Waterstudio will deliver five of these structures, called City Apps, in Dhaka, Bangladesh in late November.

Check out the project below.

Waterstudio will soon premiere five City Apps in Korail, a low-income community in Dhaka, Bangladesh. They are portable and can move to different neighborhoods.

Foto: A City App classroom in Amsterdam, Netherlands. source Waterstudio

City Apps can be customized for several types of uses, including classrooms, water filtration systems, medical clinics, or homes.

During the day, one structure will be a classroom featuring 20 tablet workstations and two teaching screens. In the evening, it will be used as an internet cafe.

Foto: A City App classroom in Amsterdam, Netherlands. source Waterstudio

The other four units will consist of a community kitchen, a facility with a public restroom and shower, and another with a back-up generator for electricity. The units are powered by solar panels located on the roofs.

Foto: A City App classroom in Amsterdam, Netherlands. source Waterstudio

The units will be buoyed to the sea floor, and move up and down as water levels rise, helping them withstand storms. They’re designed to be air-tight to reduce the risk of flooding.

Foto: source Waterstudio

The City Apps, which cost $53,000, were built in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Waterstduio CEO Koen Olthius told Business Insider.

Foto: source Waterstudio

Each foundation is made of wooden pallets, wire, and thousands of recycled plastic bottles, which allow the structures to float.

Foto: source Waterstudio

Founded in 2003, Waterstudio is known for its floating structures. It has constructed more than 200 buildings on water around the world, including these floating villas for a neighborhood called IJburg in Amsterdam, Netherlands:

Foto: source Waterstudio

Olthius hopes the City App project will provide valuable resources to neighborhoods in developing nations, especially ones threatened by climate change.

Foto: source Waterstudio

Waterstudio is working with local developers on the project in case they want to build more units.

“Some people live very close to the water — in vulnerable locations,” he said. “They can use these structures to improve their neighborhoods.”

Foto: source Waterstudio

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Waterstudio makes a splash with floating architectural visions

By Rich Haridy
New Atlas

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.


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Eerste waterwoning Stadswerven volgende maand bewoond

By Albert Sok
Photo Credit: Victor van Breukelen

Eerste waterwoning Stadswerven volgende maand bewoond
Dordtenaren Paul en Alice Rijfkogel moeten nog vier weken geduld hebben, maar dan kunnen ze eindelijk hun drijvende droomhuis in het water van de Wantij betrekken.

Sinds maandagavond ligt de eerste van vijf drijvende woningen te pronken in de rivier. Het afgelopen jaar werd de blikvanger gebouwd in Heerenveen, waarvandaan die zaterdag vertrok richting de Stadswerven. Woensdag en donderdag wordt de loopbrug vastgemaakt aan de waterwoning, waarna binnen de laatste puntjes op de i gezet kunnen worden. ,,We moeten alleen nog behangen en de vloer leggen’’, popelt Rijfkogel, nu nog woonachtig in Dubbeldam. De komende weken volgen nummer twee tot en met vier. Volgend jaar zomer meert ook de laatste van de vijf aan.

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Floating City Apps – Floating Facilities for Flood Prone Areas

By Ed Hill
Photo Credits: Waterstudio, UNESCO


A previous article in our series on floating architecture highlighted the work of Dutch architecture firm Architectstudio Marlies Bohmer in creating the floating community of Waterbuurt in Amsterdam. The point was made that, although it is in a developed country, it is one of the first working examples of a floating community not made up of houseboats, but actual dwellings. Another interesting Dutch architecture firm looking into floating facilities for flood­prone communities is, which, as the name implies, specializes in ‘waterborne architecture’. Waterstudio, in fact, designed several of the private floating houses of Waterbuurt, and also has designed a number of other floating houses around the world.

Floating City Apps

With about one billion people worldwide living in shantytowns, many of which are located in areas prone to flooding, the need for innovative solutions to providing decent shelter and facilities is growing daily. Since floodprone areas are least likely to receive investment for upgrading, architect Koen Olthuis of has put forward a proposal for small scale floating facilities as a bottom up approach to improving opportunities in what he terms ‘wet slums’ – called Floating City Apps.


Replicable and Multi-purpose

The Floating City App designed by Waterstudio is based on the concept of a floating shipping container fitted out for multi­purpose use. The first such unit, housing 20 tablet computer workstations and 2 teaching screens, will be utilised as a classroom during the day and an Internet café in the evening. The unit has a simple construction, the modified shipping container being fixed to a base of wooden pallets floating on a wire gabion framework containing bags filled with recycled PET bottles.

The materials for the floating base are readily obtainable in developing countries so the units are easily replicable. In addition, the idea of used PET bottles for flotation is intended to provide an avenue for recycling, in order to help keep waterways clear of plastic pollution. The interior of each City App container will be fitted in the Netherlands with built­in walls and equipment, purpose designed for the specific use it is intended for. In addition, it will have solar PV panels on the roof and solar power equipment installed behind the interior walls.

Floating City Apps have been designed for six different uses; communication & education, sanitation, community kitchen, health care, garbage collection and construction. The term City App was inspired by the concept of applications, or ‘apps’ found on mobile phones. Although several phones may look the same, each is different in terms of the apps that have been loaded onto it – hence the idea that the same floating container concept can be used for different purposes.

Floating City App Foundation

It costs about €50,000 (US$53,000) to design, build and deliver a floating City App and, in order to realize the implementation of the concept, the Floating City App Foundation was established with Dutch aid organization Cordaid in 2013. The foundation works with several partners, including the UNESCO­IHE Institute for Water Education, as well as authorities in the proposed recipient country. At a ceremony in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in June 2015, an agreement was signed between Floating City Apps, Cordaid and the Bangladeshi Computer Council of the Ministry of Post, Telecommunication and IT, in the presence of the State Minister of ICT, Mr Zunaid Ahmed Palak and the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure, Mrs Melanie Schultz, for the first Floating City App to be established in Bangladesh. Floating City App Bangladesh Netherlands Collaboration

Unesco­IHE Institute for Water Education assists Cordaid with a process of identifying and mapping sites for Floating City Apps. With the aid of local agents, a ‘wet slum’ is mapped and the needs of the community assessed in order to determine the most appropriate use or uses. Shipping containers will be fitted with the relevant Floating City App designs, and the containers shipped to the nearest destination port, from which they can be transported by road. The floating platform will be constructed on­site and the container will then be attached to the platform.

Chris Zevenbergen, Professor of Flood Resilience of Urban Systems at UNESCO­IHE Institute of Water Education notes that the Communication and Education App will be also used for early flood warning systems in these areas.

“We will provide recommendations to the World Bank to work differently with regard to slums upgrading” he says, “Not a one size fits all approach, but tailor made solutions for slums using local knowledge … investing in slums is not very attractive to donors. I hope this attitude changes, as slums are an important economy for the city. You can think of micro financing solutions for example”.

“Concrete solutions such as the City Apps developed by Koen Olthuis and partners should really help to attract financial support for further development” concludes Zevenbergen.

Business Model

Olthuis says that there is a business model for the operation of the Floating City App. It will be leased to a local entrepreneur who will be able to provide the service to community members for a small fee. The repayment period is expected to be in the order of 20 to 30­odd years. If the situation changes and the App is no longer required or viable, it can be towed to another destination, or shipped back to the Netherlands for refitting or repurposing. Olthuis explains: “So these are catalyst functions for upgrading wet slums. We have a business model. If we want to upgrade life of the poorest worldwide, one billion people, we can’t just spend money and give them money, we have to provide the tools to upgrade the lives themselves, by providing them (with) these kinds of apps.”

Since the floating City Apps are technically classed as vessels, they can qualify for insurance and private financing, which should make them attractive options for local businesses. “Cordaid’s ambition is to co­create smart and sustainable solutions with businesses and local partners for people in need. Social enterprise holds the future” says Cordaid CFO Willem Jan van Wijk, adding “That is why we cooperated in the realization of the first Floating City App for Bangladesh.”

Pilot Floating City App Passes Final Test

The first pilot Floating City App, containing the classroom, underwent its final testing for ‘sea­worthiness’ and stability in the Hofvijver in front of the Dutch Parliament Building in Den Hague, on 11 March 2016. This was accompanied by the official handing over of the App to the honorable Ambassador of Bangladesh, Mr Sheikh Mohammed Belal by the representative of The Hague Municipality, Mr Karsten Klein. The pilot communication and education Floating City App is expected to be shipped to Bangladesh early in 2017, where it will be sited on the Banani Lake adjacent to the Korail slum in the capital city, Dhaka. Korail covers 150 acres (61ha) of waterside land, mostly belonging to Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd, and is home to over 40,000 residents. Many of the homes are built on stilts over the water, so the placing of a Floating City App on the water will be easily accessible and not out of place. “If I were to build only floating islands for the wealthy, I would only make 150 people happy in the next 50 years,” said Mr Olthuis, 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.”

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Olthuis: ‘Bouw amfibische wijken in overstromingsgebieden’

By Architectenweb


Over de hele wereld ontwerpt hij drijvende gebouwen, zelfs hele drijvende wijken; architect Koen Olthuis van Waterstudio.NL. Op donderdag 15 september geeft hij op Architect@Work een lezing over de mogelijkheden van drijvende steden. Architectenweb hield met de architect een voorgesprek.

“De steden die we al eeuwenlang op het land bouwen volgen ook maar een concept”, begint architect Koen Olthuis van Waterstudio.NL. “Het is een bewezen concept, maar ook een die niet optimaal functioneert. Onze boodschap is: kijk ook eens naar water en welke mogelijkheden dat biedt om tot een andere stedenbouw te komen.”

Water biedt de stad in Olthuis’ optiek veiligheid, ruimte en flexibiliteit. Om met dat laatste aspect te beginnen: met de verplaatsbaarheid van drijvende gebouwen kunnen steden veel minder statisch worden. De tijd die steden nodig hebben om te reageren op veranderende sociaal-economische vragen, de response time zoals Olthuis het noemt, kan dan flink omlaag.

Als voorbeeld noemt Olthuis steden die enkel in een bepaald seizoen gebruikt worden, seasonal cities. Kunnen die gebouwen off-season niet op een andere plek ingezet worden? “Laat steden met het gebruik meebewegen”, benadrukt Olthuis.

Dat sommige steden dicht bebouwd zijn, betekent volgens hem nog niet dat ze ten volle gebruikt worden. “Ik noem dat de efficiency van het gebruik.” Sommige functies kunnen op het water – als verplaatsbaar gebouw – intensiever gebruikt worden dan wanneer ze op het land zouden blijven.

In Libanon werkt de architect momenteel aan een drijvende woning die uit twee U-vormen bestaat. Hierbij heeft de buitenzijde van de U-vorm een gesloten gevel en de binnenzijde een open gevel. De toekomstige bewoners kunnen straks met beide bouwdelen spelen en ervoor kiezen om de woning volledig gesloten te houden, deze deels te openen, of deze helemaal te openen. Zo kunnen de bewoners bijvoorbeeld inspelen het veranderende klimaat door het jaar heen. Van volledig gesloten naar volledig geopend kost volgens Olthuis maar een paar uur tijd.

Amfibische steden

Wat betreft waterveiligheid vindt Olthuis het interessant wat momenteel in steden als Bangkok, Tokyo en Shanghai gebeurt. Het water heeft daar meer ruimte nodig. Daarom zijn er veiligheidszones ingesteld die nog niet ontwikkeld kunnen worden. Omdat ze bijvoorbeeld eens in de zoveel tijd onder water lopen. “Amfibische wijken of steden kunnen daar een uitkomst zijn.”

Een permanent drijvende woning biedt niet voor iedereen het gewenste comfort, geeft Olthuis toe. De meeste mensen wonen toch het liefst aan een straat met een eigen tuin. Een woning die normaal gesproken op de grond staat, maar bij een overstroming bijvoorbeeld eens in de vijf jaar korte tijd drijft, kan dan een uitkomst zijn.

“De grootste bedreiging in Nederland komt niet van de stijgende zeespiegel, maar van hoge waterstanden in de rivieren en hevige regenval”, stelt Olthuis. “Een aantal van de meer dan 3.500 polders in ons land zouden we daarom in moeten richten als noodopslag voor water. Hier kunnen vervolgens amfibische wijken gerealiseerd worden.” In China en Thailand werkt Olthuis al aan plannen voor dergelijke wijken.

Kansen in Nederland nog onbenut

Ondanks dit alles is het in Nederland de afgelopen jaren opvallend stil rond het bouwen op water. In Rotterdam wordt een drijvende boerderij gebouwd, in Amsterdam worden enkele tientallen waterkavels op de markt gebracht voor particuliere woningbouw. “Onder de 70.000 woningen die jaarlijks in Nederland gebouwd worden zijn misschien honderd waterwoningen.”

“Nederlandse ontwikkelaars zijn lui”, constateert Olthuis. “Nederland is op dit punt gewoon meer een innovatieland dan een uitvoerland.” De hele wereld bekijkend is de architect echter zeer optimistisch over drijvende architectuur. Overal is daar grote interesse in.

Richting architecten heeft Olthuis ook een boodschap: “Zie water als een extra ingrediënt in de stedenbouw dat veiligheid, ruimte en flexibiliteit biedt.”

Architect@Work vindt plaats op woensdag 14 september en donderdag 15 september in Rotterdam Ahoy. Als mediapartner heeft Architectenweb rond het thema architectuur en water een gevarieerd lezingenprogramma samengesteld. Binnen dit programma geeft architect Koen Olthuis van Waterstudio.NL op donderdag 15 september om 17:30u een lezing met de lengte van een uur.

De lezingen tijdens Architect@Work zijn gratis bij te wonen. Registreer je wel van tevoren even. Ga naar, klik op de knop Gratis Bezoekersregistratie en registreer je met de code 455.

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Koen Olthuis one of fifty innovators of the 21th century

Koen Olthuis selected as one of the Fifty Under Fifty innovators of our time. After a world-wide search of 50 top architecture and design firms by the editors, lead author Beverly Russell along with Eva Maddox and Farooq Ameen help bring together a unique body of work; all partners in these firms will be 50 years old or under at the time of publication, and represent a forward-thinking generation of creative people, aware of global issues that urgently need solutions through imaginative design.

A distinguished five-person jury presided over the final selection: Stanley Tigerman, founding partner, Tigerman McCurry, Chicago; Ralph Johnson, design principal, Perkins+Will, Chicago; Jeanne Gang, founder Gang Studio, Chicago; Marion Weiss, founding partner, WEISS/MANFREDI, New York; and Qingyun Ma, Dean of Architecture, University of Southern California, and founder MADA s.p.a.m., Shanghai and Beijing.

The innovators featured in this impressive volume share with us, and the world, their desires for exponential learning; designs are illuminated with full-color photography and detailed illustrations, helping to showcase the innovators’ individual curiosities, imaginations, and talents. This material shows how they bridge disciplines, respect cultural norms, respond to human needs regardless of costs, and how they adopt team transparency in their passion to create and solve problems with a clear mission.

This highly anticipated book showcases honorees located across many different countries, including Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, and the United States. Significantly, a quarter of these innovators are women, representing the elevated leadership of women in architecture and design.ᅠ

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1st Scientific paper on researching wetslums was published

Slum Upgrading: Assessing the Importance of Location A plea for a spatial approach as an integral component; view online (free till Nov 1st)


The world population is growing rapidly and much of that growth is happening in urban areas. In developing countries, this process is often accompanied by the formation and expansion of slums. A variety of slum upgrading projects have been implemented to improve the living conditions of slum dwellers however a wide study to investigate the objectives of slum upgrading projects highlighted that environmental features were of low priority compared to basic services and infrastructure. The paper deduces this to be a result of the dominance of UN’s household-based definition of slums which lacks emphasis on the locational aspects. An aerial analysis of slums located near waterbodies emphasised the slums’ dynamic nature brought about by location and therefore the importance of location itself. Taking cue from this, the paper recommends upgrading projects to be more location-specific that offer flexible yet customised solutions that build upon local knowledge to account for the dynamic and diverse nature of slums. Another inference from the study was that for various reasons – one of which is hazardous location – slums are perceived to be temporary and as a result, there is low incentive to invest in slums. Such a perception prohibits slum upgrading and pushes them into a negative spiral. Concluding that slums are, however, permanent features in the urban landscape, the paper recommends a change in perception and urges practitioners to accept this permanent nature of slums. The focus and findings of this paper are relevant in context of the Habitat III Conference in 2016 which has as its focus the ‘New Urban Agenda’ that recognises the ever-changing dynamics of human civilization and aims to bring together diverse urban actors to review urban and housing policies.

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Podcast: Maldives’ Floating City?

The Seasteading Institute, Joe Quirk, Nov 2015

Interview of Joe Quirk from the Seasteading Institute with Koen Olthuis about  Maldives’ floating cities.

Podcast: Maldives’ Floating City? Koen Olthuis of Waterstudio

Podcast: Play in new window

What if a nation sinking below sea level became the innovation hub for floating cities?
What if you could float the infrastructure of Holland to the slums of Bangladesh?
What if the future of floating cities is in 3D printed technology?

Dutch architect Koen Olthuis is the co-author of Float! Building on Water to Combat Urban Congestion and Climate Change with David Keuning. Koen founded Waterstudio which designs many components of floating cities, including schools, golf courses, hotels, and even stadiums, and he co-founded Dutch Docklands which plans gorgeous projects for the Maldives.  In 2007, Koen was chosen at Time Magazine‘s “most influential people of the year,” and the French magazine Terra Eco chose Koen in 2011 as one of the 100 greenest persons who will change the the world.

Koen Olthuis initiated a project to transform shipping containers into Floating City Apps to upgrade living conditions in coastal slums by providing “plug-and-play” schools, kitchens, health centers, internet cafes, and water purification units.

Should seasteads establish political independence first, and then change the world? Or should floating cities set humanitarian examples, win hearts and minds, and then seek independence? Koen and I discuss the strategies and agree to partner on a shared goal.

I hope you enjoy this discussion as much as I did. And if you subscribe to podcasts on iTunes, you can find this podcast and all of our other podcasts on our iTunes page.

Joe Quirk

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Floating City Apps: A Lifeline for Slums

By Carol Matlack
Bloomberg Businessweek


Dutch architecture firm Waterstudio uses shipping containers to build structures that benefit people living in flood-ravaged shantytowns.

Firm: Waterstudio
Location: Rijswijk, Netherlands
Total Cost: $28,000

More than 600 million people worldwide live in shantytowns that suffer chronic flooding. Because these settlements are often illegal, entrepreneurs and community groups can’t get the building permits, insurance, and bank loans to open grocery stores, health clinics, and other essential establishments.
Dutch architect Koen Olthuis thinks he has a solution: His Floating City Apps are structures built from shipping containers that can be docked alongside waterfront slums. The first, set to be deployed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, this fall, will be outfitted with 20 computer workstations. It will be used as a classroom in the daytime and as an Internet café in the evening. Unesco and local non-profit are subsidizing construction. Because the units are vessels, they will qualify for insurance and private financing, which may also make them attractive options for local business.
Olthuis’s firm, Waterstudio, specializes in waterborne architecture and building floating resort in Maldives. He wants to put some of that know-how to work for the benefit of the poor. “The architecture is simple”, he says. “But you need to have a business model”.

This demonstration unit in the Netherlands is outfitted as an education and communications center, with 20 touchscreen workstations.


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