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World’s first floating apartment build to commence in 2014

Gizmag, Phyllis Richardson, October 2013

The Dutch are known for their ingenuity in taming it and using it to their advantage, but their systems for keeping water at bay are now being rethought by architect Koen Olthuis and his team at Waterstudio. While rising sea and river levels have inspired governments around the world to invest in better flood defenses, with the Citadel, Olthuis is embracing water-borne housing with particular vigor.

Designed for developer ONW/BNG GO, The Citadel is a flotilla of apartments in one modern luxury development. The project, which will begin building work early next year, will consist of 60 units in a high density arrangement (30 units per acre of water). Part of the project means halting some flood defenses and letting the water back in. Olthuis points out that Holland has as many as 3,500 polders (patches of low-lying land that are protected by artificial dikes) which are below sea level and kept dry by pumping water out 24/7. This new development, dubbed New Water, will essentially be re-flooded after centuries of being kept artificially dry.

Lightweight construction on top of a main deck and easy connections to land are part of the program designed to deliver the same level of comfort as in a high-rise building. A large, heavy, floating concrete caisson provides the foundation, which also contains the car park, and will support the apartments. These will consist of 180 modular elements, all arranged around a central courtyard.

Construction will take place in a temporary dry dock. When construction is completed, explains Olthuis, the pumps will stop and the site will flood. Once the site has been “depolderized,” the Citadel will float in 6 feet of water, which will later rise to 12 feet in depth. A floating bridge will connect the Citadel to the mainland, allowing residents and emergency vehicles access. The architects maintain that due to the large size of the overall concrete caisson base, which is 240 x 420 x 9 feet in size, residents will not be able to detect any water-related motion.

Though this is partly a government-funded enterprise, this is the higher-end part of the development and the design of the units is quite bold. The apartment blocks are made up of irregularly shaped floors stacked at odd angles to one another so that overhangs alternate with shaded window recesses. Each has its own floor plan and outdoor space.

Sustainability is an abiding concern, though the Citadel does not seem to have yet committed to the full range of technologies. The facades will be clad in aluminum, as its longevity and low-maintenance requirements were found to outweigh its energy costs. Greenhouse units and green roofs will be part of the environment but it is not yet clear how extensive these will be. Energy saving methods and technology are estimated to make consumption for the Citadel 25 percent less than that of a conventional building on land. Not surprisingly, all of the apartments will have water views and most will have their own berth for a small boat. The Citadel is part of a larger development that will be built in this depolderized zone of New Water, which will eventually have 6 such floating apartment buildings.

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Dutch Docklands to the rescue for Dubai’s World project?

Gizmag, Bridget Borgobello, Nov 2011

The troubled World Project in Dubai, which has been riddled with problems since the global financial crisis in 2009 including rumors that the islands are sinking, may have found salvation. Architectural firm Dutch Docklands has developed, designed and engineered a master plan for 89 floating islands, giving current World investors the opportunity to purchase a floating paradise. The solution would provide investors with an option that’s more feasible and cost-effective than building on the existing land masses, whilst also incorporating several environmental benefits.

“Floating islands are environmentally friendly and leave a zero footprint after its lifespan, and opens opportunities where there is a scarcity of land,” Jasper Mulder, General Manager of Dutch Docklands Maldives told Gizmag. “They are the answer to urban limitations and climate change. It secures a safe and sustainable future where conventional building methods fail.”

The 89 floating islands proposed for the Middle East includes residential and commercial floating developments with a total surface area of 220,000 square meters (almost 2.4 million sq.ft). Dutch Docklands founders Paul Van de Camp and Koen Olthuis have developed technologies for developing floating constructions beyond the waterfront. “In Holland we have hundreds of years of experience of water management, many centuries of innovation to protect us from the water,” explained Mulder. “The vision of Dutch Docklands is to use this know-how in an offensive way by living with the water by way of floating developments. This new approach has automatically led to the first floating developments mainly built in the Netherlands.”

Dutch Docklands’ floating islands may be the preference for many World investors, as “serious talks are being held as we speak” said Mulder. However, the forward-thinking Dutch architects also have plans for the Maldives. A joint venture with the government of the Maldives has led to an ambitious master plan for more than 800 hectares (80 million sq.ft) of water, with floating construction currently in development.

The project hopes to see the completion of four individual ring-shaped floating islands, each with 72 water-villas; 43 floating private islands in an archipelago configuration; the world’s first floating 18-hole golf course; and, an 800-room floating hotel. Furthermore, the floating islands will be interconnected by underwater tunnels, and the golf course will feature an underwater clubhouse adjoining two luxury hotels.

The reality of floating islands could start to shape future urban landscapes, with further scope for agriculture, offices, housing and leisure. “This will lead to new economic opportunities where governments can cost-effectively lease islands with flexible solutions instead of investing in static developments,” concludes Mulder. It would also seem that Dutch Docklands could be the perfect candidates for Paypal founder Peter Thiel’s floating city challenge we covered a few months back!

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