skip to Main Content
Architecture, urban planning and research in, on and next to water
+31 70 39 44 234

Future Proof: Arkup Luxury “Boathouse”

By Rhapsody magzine

The Arkup #1 floating home is a US$5 million luxury boathouse investment against rising sea levels

For sale for US$5.5 million, the luxurious Arkup floating house should be the ultimate high net worth individual’s contingency plan against the looming spectre of rising sea levels

The Arkup No.1 Floating Home is not just a luxurious concept but a revolutionary one. Designed by Dutch architect Koen Olthuis of, Arkup is a unique floating home realised from Olthuis’s  philanthropic focus on future habitats and the challenges of rising sea levels and floods resulting from climate change as well as the needs of a booming world population.

The 4 bedroom (each equipped with its own en-suite bathroom) luxury “houseboat” is an off-grid “blue dwelling” and so you aren’t exactly “living on a yacht” – you get to enjoy all the creature comforts of landed real estate except that you’re living right on the water instead of a mere waterfront.

Ranked 122nd on TIME Magazine’s list of the most influential people in the world, Olthuis and his firm specialises in floating structures and homes. His own native Netherlands (through innovative use of dikes, Holland is built mostly on wetlands) with one-third reclaimed land and sits below sea-level so water-based issues are challenges that he has a unique perspective on. The Arkup No.1 or officially “Arkup #1” is a 75 ft (22.9m) long two-story luxury houseboat with 4,350 sq ft of space; the first edition floating home was furnished by Brazil’s Artefacto.

For sale for US$5.5 million, Olthuis’s luxurious Arkup floating house should be the ultimate high net worth individual’s contingency plan against the looming spectre of climate change. Unveiled at the recent Miami Ycaht Show, the Arkup #1 floating home boasts solar power, stabilizing hydraulic stilts, and its own engines. The hydraulic stilts are an innovating  self-elevating system can go down 20 feet to lift it above the waves, keeping you and your home safe in a storm. Suffice it to say, if you happened to be caught away from the shore during a storm or a calamitous tsunami event, the Arkup is a literally boathouse, it would just float on the mega waves. Arkup No. 1 is also designed to withstand a Category 4 hurricane (up to 250 km/h winds) and carries stories stored solar energy reserves in its 1,000 kWh battery pack for night time power needs as well as a rainwater collection system for moderate water self-sufficiency.

A pair of 100kW thrusters with 272 horsepower can move the Arkup #1 luxury boathouse up to seven knots, allowing high net worth individuals to flee some of the devastation should a climate disaster strike. Arkup livable yachts combine the best attributes of yachts, floating houses and waterfront villas, with the added benefits of being self-sufficient, sustainable and environmentally friendly.

#1 is for sale in Miami and there are plans to build three more in the next 12 months. There are also preliminary project plans for eco-resorts in the Middle East, Asia and the Caribbean.

Click here for the source website

Click here for the pdf

Koen Olthuis as speaker at Batibouw Brussels

Koen Olthuis  shared Waterstudio’s vision of  ‘The Rise Of The Blue City’ at Batibouw Brussels.


By Batibouw

Op donderdag 21 februari reikt BATIBOUW opnieuw de Belgian Building Awards uit. Tijdens een galadiner, met architect Koen Olthuis als keynote speaker, worden de winnaars bekendgemaakt van vijf architectenawards en één innovation award. De Belgian Building Awards prijzen de realisaties van architecten, bouwheren, studiebureaus en aannemingsbedrijven. BATIBOUW organiseeert dit evenement in samenwerking met redactiebureau Palindroom, de Orde van Architecten, en magazine Ik ga Bouwen & Renoveren.


Architects Worldwide Invent Groundbreaking Waterborne Solutions To Climate Change, Part 3

By Forbes
Photo credits: Waterstudio


There are two groups of people in the world who live by the water’s edge: the extremely rich and the extremely poor. For one, it’s a lifestyle choice; for the other, they rely on the water for their livelihoods. They can’t relocate away from the waterline, as land is often expensive and reserved for those who can afford it. Floating structures would give them the chance to continue living on the water rather than being displaced. In the vision of Dutch architect Koen Olthuis, founder of Waterstudio, large-scale floating developments could be invested in by wealthy nations like Qatar or Saudi Arabia not only for their own countries, but as global, mobile and flexible real estate, which may be leased to coastal cities. They could be floating hotels and stadiums for cities that wish to organize the Olympic Games but cannot afford it, or cities that have been hit by climate change-related disasters that can lease an entire set of floating functions like energy plants, hospitals, schools, sanitation systems, harbors and airports that may be towed from a safe floating location to devastated areas for rescue and relief. These are large-scale solutions to instantly upgrade cities and help communities recover with basic necessities within a couple of weeks, since they generally only invest money following a disaster.

Amillarah Private Islands at The World in DubaiCOURTESY OF ARCHITECT KOEN OLTHUIS – WATERSTUDIO.NL

Olthuis believes that the technology and money are already available, but it’s a matter of changing mindsets before waterborne developments become a part of daily reality. He discloses, “Before a disaster, nobody wants to change. After a disaster, everybody wants to change. Either you wait for a disaster or you do something with floating structures where people see that they can already make money before a disaster. The role we have as architects is not just to design and engineer, but also to guide governments, municipalities and developers to show them how to finance, insure, change legal aspects and start to use floating structures in cities.”

From multimillion-dollar floating islands for rich clients that will allow Olthuis to gain knowledge, he hopes to spread water architecture to entire middle-class communities worldwide using the same technology, as well as to developing countries that are at even greater risk of flooding, which may apply simple urban plug-ins of basic functions to slums to improve lives immediately. For example, Dubai is investing heavily in designing and building on water. Waterstudio collaborated with oceanographer Jean-Michel Cousteau to conceive Amillarah Private Islands by developer Dutch Docklands in The World – Dubai’s artificial archipelago of over 300 islands in the shape of the world map, measuring nine kilometers by seven kilometers, that will include residences, commercial areas with resorts, transit hubs for ferries and a tourism zone – which will consist of 33 eco-friendly, luxury floating homes on concrete and polystyrene foundations, each with its own garden, pool, beach and underwater habitat for sea life to enhance livability above and below the surface.


Completely stable on the water and built to last over a century, the man-made floating islands will be customizable to clients’ specifications. In the Maldives, Waterstudio has designed floating island resorts and a golf course for Dutch Docklands, which is working with the Maldivian government to reinforce society with long-term waterborne developments. Olthuis believes that floating islands with high-density affordable housing could be added to the existing islands to provide space and safety without any negative impact on the marine environment during or after their lifespans. Over the years, his work has evolved from designing for the superrich to designing for the poor in areas that have to adjust their planning approach because of climate change, as he hopes to improve the lives of millions instead of only the happy few.

Click here for the pdf

Click here for the website

Architects Worldwide Invent Groundbreaking Floating And Flood-Resistant Solutions To Climate Change


Sea levels are rising to new highs, temperatures are increasing, floods and storms are getting fiercer and more widespread, Hurricane Harvey battered Texas and Hurricane Irma devastated Florida and the Caribbean, and hundreds of millions of people along floodplains worldwide live under threat due to climate change. Nations like the Maldives have to build on water or move to flee rising sea levels, New Orleans has to battle storm surges and Jakarta has to cope with massive flooding. Inaction doesn’t always benefit cities, as innovations driven by changing realities can introduce new prosperity. Mitigating the effects of climate change is usually seen as a cost, but the resulting modifications made in cities can lead to long-term economic and social benefits. Climate change is not just about the risk of floods and drowning, but also the financial cost of damaged property and businesses and how it will redefine which parts of a city are sought after and which are unsafe. A one meter sea level rise would reorganize maps and affect financial stability in many of the world’s biggest waterfronts, and precious real estate in places like New York and Miami would be lost. Lots of land in Bangladesh, India and the Philippines would also vanish. Many of the water defense systems in the Netherlands safeguarding the country would become ineffective. World leaders may be delaying addressing the issue as they favor short-term strategies with immediate benefits, but in the meantime, certain architects are working on solutions to build more resilient structures on the water or to address flood protection on land and changing the rules that traditional urban planning has imposed upon us. By resolving the issues stemming from climate change and urbanization, water-based architecture is redefining urbanism. Offering a minimally-invasive method of construction, modern floating developments take advantage of coastal zones, rivers, lakes and canals in space-starved cities and provide flexibility as they may be modified, moved and reused until the end of their lifecycles when they are recycled. The technologies and innovations required for water-based constructions already exist, but now changing the perception towards floating schemes is key to a more sustainable and safer future able to meet modern-day challenges.

Waterstudio’s Citadel floating apartment complex composed of 60 units in The New Water, city of Westland, The NetherlandsCOURTESY OF ARCHITECT KOEN OLTHUIS – WATERSTUDIO.NL


What if instead of fighting rising sea levels, we embrace the water by integrating it into our cities, creating resilient buildings and infrastructure that can deal with extreme flooding and heavy rains? As many metropolises are situated near the water, it is logical that cities will find a way to live with the water instead of relocating inland. A leader in floating architecture who sees the potential that water can bring in making cities more resilient and safer, Koen Olthuis and his Amsterdam-based firm Waterstudio founded in 2003 – among the first to focus exclusively on waterborne architecture – have been showing the benefits of building on the water and how befriending water is a means for survival. This is an architect who was raised in an artificial landscape engineered for water, as about one-third of the Netherlands with over 60 % of the country’s population lies below sea level, and the Dutch have spent the last thousand years constructing storm surge barriers, dikes, pumps and drainage systems to keep the North Sea out. Experts in high-tech engineering, water management and resilience planning, they have installed lakes, parks, plazas and carparks that serve social needs, but also double as giant emergency reservoirs for when floods occur from storms now predicted to happen every five to 10 years. Water has been a way of life in the Netherlands and foreign delegations from Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, New York and New Orleans often visit to learn from them. Climate change adaptation is high on the public agenda although the country hasn’t met with a disaster in years because the population has seen the benefits of improving public space, which is the additional economic value of investing in resilience.

Click here for the pdf

Click here for the website

Water World

By FuturARc
Jan. Feb. 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here for the full article

Click here for the website

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.”

Click here to read the article in pdf

Click here for the source website

Het conflict van de dynamische mens met statische steden en gebouwen

By Tanny de Nooy


1 Juli 2016  Blandlord

Vastgoed móet flexibiliteit gaan bieden

Koen Olthuis studeerde Architectuur en Industrieel Ontwerp aan de TU Delft. Hij werkt sindsdien als architect en heeft water als specialisme. In 2007 noemde Time Magazine hem in de lijst ‘most influential people’ vanwege zijn werk in het wereldwijd groeiende interesseveld waterontwikkeling. Het Franse tijdschrift Terra Eco verkoos hem in 2011 tot een van de honderd ‘groene’ mensen die de wereld zullen veranderen. Olthuis’ architectenbureau Waterstudio en is gevestigd in Rijswijk.

“In Nederland kennen we als geen ander de mogelijkheid om van water bouwgrond te maken. We hebben een lange historie als het gaat om het bewoonbaar maken van natte gebieden. Dat fascineert me al sinds ik studeerde.” Koen Olthuis houdt zich al vijftien jaar bezig met architectuur op het water. In 2003 richtte hij Architectenbureau Waterstudio op en sindsdien is het bureau alleen maar gegroeid. Olthuis is een veelgevraagd architect, van China en Dubai tot aan de Oekraïne en de Malediven.

Olthuis is overtuigd van de vele kansen die water te bieden heeft als het gaat om te toekomst van vastgoed. “Waar het water vroeger nog benaderd werd als een vijand die in toom gehouden moest worden, is het de afgelopen twintig jaar een vriend geworden, die ongekende mogelijkheden biedt: we kunnen met z’n allen op het water gaan wonen! En ja: dat kan overal ter wereld. Van woonboten en waterwoningen tot drijvende resorts: als er water is, kun je erop bouwen.”

“Ik weet zeker dat de vastgoedwereld de komende jaren enorm gaat veranderen”, zegt Olthuis. “Kijk om je heen; de wereld is vandaag écht anders georganiseerd dan tien jaar geleden en dit is nog maar het begin! Bedrijven veranderen de manier waarop ze werken onder invloed van de mogelijkheden van internet en nieuwe technologieën en ook in onze privélevens veranderen onze behoeften onder invloed van deze ontwikkelingen. Je kunt op je vingers natellen dat wat wij verwachten van de fysieke ruimtes waarin we wonen en werken óók zal veranderen.”

De wereld om ons heen verandert
Olthuis wijst op de grote leegstand van kantoorgebouwen die zich het afgelopen decennium in veel steden ontwikkeld heeft. Hij verklaart die leegstand door de luiheid en traagheid van de vastgoedwereld. “Onze steden zijn statisch, onze gebouwen zijn statisch, maar wij, de mensen die er gebruik van maken zijn dynamisch. Je kunt de prachtigste gebouwen maken, maar omdat de wereld om ons heen zo snel verandert is dat gebouw over tien jaar al achterhaald. Als we op deze manier blijven werken zal er niets veranderen. Gebouwen die we nu ontwerpen zullen niet meer voldoen aan de dan geldende wensen en behoeften als ze gerealiseerd zijn. Vastgoed zal meer flexibiliteit moeten gaan bieden.”

“Er zijn zoveel veranderingen dat je die als architect onmogelijk allemaal kunt voorzien”, stelt Olthuis nuchter vast. “En dus is flexibiliteit bieden het enige wat je kunt doen. Vastgoed zou niet statisch moeten zijn. Vastgoed evolueert. Nu bouwen we gebouwen die zo lang staan dat ze overbodig worden en een negatief effect op steden hebben. Architecten moeten gaan ontwerpen voor verandering. We moeten gebouwen ontwerpen die snel en eenvoudig aanpasbaar zijn, zodat ze mee kunnen golven met onze veranderende wensen.” Dat meegolven mag je van Olthuis vrij letterlijk nemen: “Alles wat je op water bouwt is makkelijk aanpasbaar. Je kunt elementen snel verbinden met elkaar en je kunt andere dingen wegschuiven. Maar ook kartonbouw en panden die bestaan uit een lichte houtstructuur, piepschuim of containers zijn oplossingen die veel meer passen bij de wensen en behoeften van deze tijd. Nog geen twintig jaar geleden spuugden we erop, maar nu zien we de logica ervan in. Het biedt precies díe flexibiliteit die de vastgoedsector nodig heeft.”

Flexibiliteit is de sleutel
En flexibiliteit is ook precies wat bouwen op het water te bieden heeft, weet Olthuis. Als het aan hem ligt bouwen we over tien jaar hele steden op het water zoals dat in andere landen al lang gebeurt. “Denk bijvoorbeeld aan de RAI in Amsterdam. In feite is dat een ontzettend log gebouw, dat voor veel events die er worden georganiseerd nét te klein of veel te groot is. Ik kan me voorstellen dat je zegt: ‘we slopen de RAI en bouwen woningen op die gewilde plaats in de stad’. Met het geld dat dat oplevert zouden er drijvende expositieruimtes in de Amsterdamse havens gebouwd kunnen worden. Daar is immers plek zat! Bij een groot event laat je die nieuwe ruimtes naar een plek in hartje centrum drijven. Op die manier benut je de ruimte die je ook echt nodig hebt.” Olthuis droomt van een dynamische stad met flexibele gebouwen.“De ziel van zo’n stad wordt bepaald door vaste iconische gebouwen als kerken en universiteiten. Maar daaromheen bouwen we flexibele en verplaatsbare functies  die gedurende hun levensduur niet meer perse locatiegebonden zijn. Helemaal ingespeeld op wat de gebruiker van het gebouw op dat moment nodig heeft.”

Het aantrekken van de economie en daarmee de woningmarkt is voor Olthuis hét moment om op te roepen tot meer innovatie in de vastgoedsector. “Juist nu het weer beter gaat moeten we in durven zetten op verandering. Als we blijven doen wat we altijd al deden zullen we vroeg of laat weer tegen dezelfde problemen aanlopen. Als we met behulp van de nieuwe technologieën die we nu voorhanden hebben durven te werken, plukken we daar al heel snel de vruchten van.” De kern van Olthuis’ verhaal? “Denk na over hoe we kunnen bouwen voor ‘change’. Wat er over 10 jaar gaat gebeuren weten we niet. Bouw dus met een kortere levensduur. Van nieuwe, slimme manieren van investeren en financieren tot het durven gebruiken van nieuwe bouwmaterialen: gebouwen moeten weer van en voor de mensen zijn. Dát is de toekomst.”

Click here for the source website

Click here to view the article in pdf

Has Floating Architecture’s Moment Finally Arrived?

By Rachel Keeton
Next City


Resilient Cities

The Sea Tree, a floating natural habitat. (Photo by Waterstudio)


In a quiet, shady street in Rijswijk, the Netherlands, Koen Olthuis and the design team at Waterstudio are changing the world. From this deceptively nondescript headquarters, Waterstudio is designing the cities of the future. If Olthuis has his way, they will be safer, more flexible and more resilient than current cities. How will he do this? Olthuis is designing floating cities. As we sit down at the table, the busy office buzzing around us, my first question to Olthuis is direct: “How realistic are floating cities?” Olthuis grins and nods, he’s heard this question before.

Floating cities have captivated society’s imagination for centuries, from the development of Venice a millennium ago to Triton, designed for Tokyo Bay by Buckminster Fuller in the 1960s. But it wasn’t until the last decade or so that more fully realized, just-might-actually-happen sea-based urban endeavors have emerged, made more urgent by rising sea levels and rural-to-urban migration. In the last six months, Business Insider, Bloomberg and The Guardian have all run stories asking the same question: “Has the time come for floating cities?”

Olthuis dives right in: “It depends what you mean by ‘floating city.’ If you’re talking about a community of 100,000 in the middle of the sea, we’re probably about 50 years away from achieving that. If you want it to be completely self-supporting, it’s probably going to take another 20 years after that.” Bending over a roll of tracing paper, Olthuis quickly sketches a timeline of floating architecture. If we take it from the present moment, about midway on Olthuis’ sketch, hybrid cities are the next step in this evolution. Built on the edge of the existing city, these developments could easily connect to electrical and sanitation grids. “Technically, this stuff is easy to engineer: we’re already there,” says Olthuis. That makes them more straightforward to regulate and less risky for investors.

It’s the images of sparkling new cities lost at sea that have people raising skeptical eyebrows. “We’re working on a set of guidelines, a toolbox that will ultimately get us to the floating city you imagine. We’re working out these concepts that all give a glimpse of the future, but we have to find out what we need, how it works and what it adds to current urban development. We have to map out the steps to get us from today to the future and have to think about the entire process. And we need that, because if we don’t answer these questions, we get all these architects with beautiful renderings and fantastic ideas, but they don’t tell you the steps in-between and they don’t tell you why. And then your question is, but how realistic is it?”

Listening to Olthuis, it quickly becomes apparent that this scenario is actually incredibly realistic. With the technology and market demand in place, it’s political will and ownership issues that are holding development back. People have trouble imagining an urban future where city halls can be swapped for theaters on opening night, or entire Olympic villages can simply be towed around the world instead of rebuilt every four years. “Our cities today are too static. We make static cities for dynamic societies. We should be cities that can adapt to new demands and external influences. Water gives us three things: it adds more space (in old harbors, rivers, lakes), it’s safer (from storm conditions, rising sea levels) and it’s flexible. If you only construct the buildings you will use for 100 years statically, on land, and construct the buildings you will only use for 20 to 30 years flexibly, on water, then you’ve created a much more adaptable city that can respond to changing needs quickly and efficiently. If someone isn’t happy with their house anymore, they can ship it to someone who needs it in the Philippines.”

Governments are slowing starting to see the potential of this approach. If cities like New York or Tokyo build two to three percent of their development on the water, they can sell this to developers, tax the owners and create a more flexible city. Win-win. Governments are interested in this because it presents a new market for them. While most land is privately owned or already built up, by changing policies to make floating structures available the government expands its real estate. It’s a business model that is attractive because it solves multiple problems. Floating structures can reinvigorate former industrial areas like old harbors or riversides, they can adapt to extreme weather conditions better than traditional structures and they create a profit from space that is currently unmarketable.

Still, the idea of bobbing around permanently makes some people understandably squeamish. If one floating house goes up and down on waves, it may tilt: one half sits on the crest of a wave and the other end is stuck in the trough. This doesn’t happen when you start to build big enough to have a project that is always supported by multiple waves. On the water, the bigger the project, the more stable is it. In fact, floating cities are actually something that works better all around on a larger scale. If Olthuis is designing a watervilla for a single family, he has to calculate all kinds of factors to design a single, site-specific home. This ends up costing a lot more than a traditional house. If he’s designing a community of 10,000 water villas, the price is the same as a comparable urban development.

Moving functional amenities like prisons, stadiums and airports onto the water is already becoming more common as cities try to create more elbowroom for residents. Alvaro Siza’s recently completed chemical plant in Huai’An City, China, was built on the water, and BREAD Studio recently designed a floating cemetery to be rafted off the coast of Hong Kong – a city long on elderly citizens but short on space. Today there’s a floating skate park on Lake Tahoe and floating freshwater pools in the River Thames. There’s even a floating cinema in London by UP Projects, echoing Aldo Rossi’s iconic Il Teatro del Mundo from 1979.

Less whimsical but more crucial are floating developments for informal settlements located on waterfronts or in delta regions that are most vulnerable to rising sea levels. Kunlé Adeyemi’s floating school in Makoko, a picturesque shantytown in Lagos, Nigeria, will provide classroom space for 100 students. The problem with one-off projects like NLE’s floating school, according to Olthuis, is that the Lagos government has been against it from the beginning (it’s been declared illegal), and it’s not even being used because of this controversy. “If you want to really make a difference, it can’t be just one thing. It has to be a system with a sound business model,” says Olthuis.

“I think the current generation of architects really wants to help, they want to make a difference. If you tell the story of one billion people living in slums in places like Thailand, India, Bangladesh — where water is threatening those people and no one is helping them because anything that gets built can be wiped out by the next tsunami — we think, well we have to help those people. The City Apps project — retrofitted shipping containers floating on trash — is a system where we bring in floating schools, sanitation, electricity, water treatment facilities, bakeries, internet cafes, or whatever is most needed. We can connect these floating functions to the slums or disaster sites and they will slowly help upgrade these areas.

We’re investing in this ourselves, by funding the first prototype that will be deployed to Manila. We’ve started a foundation, working with Cordaid, where we lease the City Apps directly. It costs us about €50,000 to design and build a City App in a recycled shipping container, then it gets deployed to wherever it’s needed and there they construct a floating platform out of old plastic bottles and other rubbish. Ultimately, it should be a business model that provides an entrepreneurial opportunity for residents of these areas. It’s cheap — they just pay a small monthly fee — it’s safe, since it goes up and down with the water, and it provides a solution to real problems. If you don’t need it anymore, you just send it back to us and we lease it out to someone else. Next year we’ll have ten, the year after, a hundred, and it will grow to a few thousand containers around the world. Of course, it’s just a small help to these millions of people, but we hope it will act as a model and show that we can shift from giving aid to providing an opportunity for employment.”

On the other end of the inclusiveness spectrum, there are politically motivated projects like the Seasteading Institute’s Floating City. Promoted with viral videos and backed by private donors and crowd funding, these mobile communities are envisioned as new experiments in governance, giving each community total political autonomy over itself. After attending the third Seasteading Institute conference in 2012, Josh Harkinson of Mother Jones summarized the Institute as “a hacker’s approach to government with a Waterworld-esque conception of Manifest Destiny. More than a mere repository for political dreamers, it brings together engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs of the sort one often finds in the Bay Area: techtopians who might be brilliant or delusional — or both.”

Olthuis accepts that different floating communities may have different goals. “I think we’ve only seen about 10 percent of the ideas that are actually possible in terms of floating architecture. In the next century, we’ll have thousands and thousands of new architects who can think about these possibilities.” Waterstudio calls their floating designs “scarless,” meaning they can be repositioned without leaving any trace of their presence. But the next step is to build designs like the Sea Tree, a floating natural habitat that would give small fish a sanctuary, increase the oxygenation of water, and potentially collect trash as it drifted about.

Olthuis is adamant that we have to embrace the water rather than run from it — we don’t have any other options. “Today, the momentum is there because we see the effects of climate change and we can’t be sure about our safety. We see millions of people moving to the cities and we don’t know where they will live. These issues are finally making people think twice about floating architecture. If we can convince them that it’s also financially profitable and help governments change building regulations, we’ll have a future where it’s normal to see cities that are 95 percent built on land and five percent built on water — just enough to give them the flexibility they need for an uncertain future.” It’s a revolutionary way of thinking about the city: puzzle pieces that can be reconfigured according to changing needs and desires. Olthuis’ concern with marketability and political interest makes his story much more convincing than the glossy renderings popping up on design websites. “Many architects are using technical solutions to approach this problem and just showing us the images without any information. I think a floating city is only something that works when it makes sense economically, socially, spatially — and should also look nice. It should be a normal development that is open to everyone, rather than an alien form for an elite few.” His belief in the advantages of these projects is clear, and the built examples in the Maldives, China and the Netherlands are proof of their viability. Just as it was for Buckminster Fuller 50 years ago, the floating city remains an exciting and mysterious model of urban development. Only now, it’s closer than ever. And Koen Olthuis can tell you exactly how to build it.

Click here for the source website

Click here to view the article in pdf

AquaTecture, Buildings and cities designed to live and work with water

By Robert Barker & Richard Coutts
RIBA Publishing


Water plays a vital role in shaping our built environment, as it has done for centuries. We depend on it, we use it, we live with it and we must respect it. Aquatecture is the first book to outline new ways of ‘designing for water,’ using examples from around the world to illustrate methods of utilizing water innovatively, efficiently and safely.

The first part of the book explores the historical relationship between water and architecture, examining how cities and civilisations have been drawn to water and have attempted to control it. The chapters go on to assess how this relationship has changed over time, and introduce readers to a range of brand new techniques that will revolutionise the way we think about water, design and urban planning. Solutions such as amphibious housing, wet-proof buildings, zero carbon development, rain gardens, flood storage and new methods of waterfront design are discussed and their effectiveness assessed.

Full colour illustrations and international case studies are used throughout the book to bring these new theories to life; practical, technical advice sits alongside truly ground-breaking and ambitious ideas for the future. This book is an ideal reference tool for all architects, urban designers, planners and sustainability experts who have an interest in creating a beautiful, sustainable, intelligent and pleasurable built environment on land, in water and with water.

Click here to view the article in pdf

Back To Top