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Breaking the waves, ancient Greek-style

By Neos Kosmos
photo Credits Waterstudio


Dutch-designed floating breakwater which doubles as an energy generator is modeled after the Parthenon


The Parthenon Seawall is a new suggestion for a floating breakwater which would protect harbours and coastlines from tidal force, turning it into electrical power.

In ancient Greek mythology, Olympian god Poseidon used his trident to master the sea; thousands of years later, the need to master the sea remains as pressing as ever and it is of little wonder that those facing the task looked to ancient Greece for inspiration. This is true of the innovative Netherlands-based architecture firm ‘Waterstudio’ led by Architect Koen Olthius and specialising in floating urban structures. The studio’s mission statement is “developing solutions to the problems posed by urbanization and climate change” and its latest creation, the Parthenon Seawall, is a floating breakwater that doubles as an energy generator, promises to do exactly that.

Waterstudio used New Yorks Hudson River to illustrate the Parthenon Seawall’s function.

As its name suggests, the Parthenon Seawall was designed to resemble the iconic temple of Athena, but despite its ancient esthetics, the structure’s columns have more to do with functionality and addressing specific needs in a modern-day urban setting. While normally breakwater structures are designed to disrupt waterflow and reduce the impact of waves, tides and currents, protecting coastlines, harbors and riverbeds from potential damage, the Parthenon Seawall goes a step – or more – further than just fighting the force of water – it lives with it and turns it into electrical power. The floating breakwater stems the crash of water pushing into a harbor, while at the same time harvesting the tremendous energy a wall of water like that can generate.

The Parthenon Seawall employs the “stacked pyramid” structure – the columns are comprised of cylinders that rotate – both clockwise and counter clockwise – at low speed, moving by the flow of water. The upper concrete platform is where the energy is stored, but Waterstudio designers suggest it can also be used as a riverfront, creating a space for greenery and recreation. Poseidon would be proud.


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Floating Sea Wall Makes Energy from Rivers

By Samantha Joe
The Green Optimistic


Waterstudio, led by Koen Olthuis, is a Dutch firm that explores solutions in urban planning and research as it relates to water. One of their concepts is a floating sea wall, named The Parthenon.

The Parthenon serves multiple purposes: it slows water as it pushes into a harbor, and harvests the energy that water generates.

The concept of the floating sea wall was illustrated using the Hudson River in New York, a 315-mile long river that runs through the eastern part of the state. With 39 percent

of the American population living on the shorelines of the country, harnessing water as an energy supply would be a strategic move.

In a harbor like one in the Hudson River, the waves are so strong that a sea wall protects the boats inside of it. The strong current continuously pushes water against and through this fixed wall, resulting in more and more damage of the wall.

With a floating sea wall like the one made by Waterstudio, not only with the wall work with the force of the current, it will use the water’s movement to generate electricity. Made up of many columns, they rotate at a low speed to create energy.

The cylinders are filled with water to ensure that there is a certain amount of flexibility in the structure without reducing the effectiveness in protecting the harbor. This energy is then contained in a box inside the floating platform. The entire structure is anchored to the riverbed, while the top can be utilized in different ways, such as a boulevard, a harbor extension, or for green space.


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