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Archi-News, February 2015

Facing the city planning and climate changing challenges, the Dutch office chooses to work principally towards flexible strategies and large scale floating architecture projects proposing sustainable solutions.

In the Netherlands, one quarter of the country being under sea level, the architects are considering the ways to rethink the built environment. Koen Olthuis (*1971) is one of them. Founder of Waterstudio, he studied architecture and industrial design at the Delft Technology University. As per his words, we treat our cities as if they were static and we don’t stop erecting fixed urban elements, which after 50 years become obsolete and useless. But the to-morrow’s city is dynamic, hybrid, flexible and environment friendly, a moving town, which reinvents itself constantly. The architect’s work is more precise in order to especially respond to the pressing needs of climatic changes. Koen Olthuis proposes to live on the water, with the water. The first town created in this spirit is under construction between The Hague and Rotterdam. Called « The New Water », this 1200 house urban development takes place in the polder zone, intentionally filled with water after a few centuries of artificial draining.
Strict rules limit the volume authorized above sea level. This constraint gives life to a rather sophisticated design and to interesting spatial solutions, particularly a naturally lighted basement, large glass surfaces, parts with wood and a white Corian® curved frame running along the façade. First one of the 6 buildings foreseen in this project, Citadel is also, with its 60 luxury apartments, the first floating building in Europe. Easy to reach from the side by a floating road, the building is composed of 180 modular elements, placed on concrete foundations. The norms are identical to those of a house on dry land. Another element of the New Water project’s first part: the Waterfront villa has a concrete base with a boathouse and a swimming pool. Three U-shaped volumes enable to optimize the viewpoints at each level. Corian® is used as the main covering material.
Waterstudio develops a revolutionary concept for the cruise ships terminal. A sculptural triangular floating construction (700 x 700 m) situated outside the bank, disposes of more than 160 000sqm of conference halls, cinemas, shopping areas, spas, restaurants, hotels, etc. The triangular ring raises at one place to create a smaller interior harbour. Covered with aluminium panels and partly with photovoltaic cells, the structure anchors itself to the seabed by cables with shock absorbers, enabling a vertical flexibility, whilst ensuring horizontal stability. Modern, light and transparent, the De Hoef villa shows in a concrete way that floating architecture has now reached the same level as its land counterpart. Realized with a steel frame, the construction is an amphibian structure, floating on water but surrounded by land on three sides. The choice of this type of structure results from the fact that « normal » houses are not allowed in this peat landscape.
With the project See Tree, Waterstudio proposes a new concept for the high-density urban green points. With many layers of trees, this floating structure, unattainable for man, uses the petrol offshore platforms’ technology. It would be the first 100% floating object designed and built for flora and fauna.

At the other end of the world, Koen Olthuis undertakes a huge project: design a floating town in the Maldives. The masterplan proposes a solution to the dramatic situation created by the rising sea level. These floating developments, especially, have a real positive impact on the poor communities living near the coast. The architect reminds that the most exposed cities are Mumbai, Dhaka and Calcutta because of their huge populations threatened by the water level increase. In these cities, millions of people live in dense slums along the water and are vulnerable to floods especially during the rainy season. “With the City Apps, based on standard maritime containers, we want to use the technical knowledge coming from our floating projects for the wealthy people.” They can be compared to Smartphone with applications adapted to different needs, such as a special programme for slums. In view of their flexibility and small size, the City Apps use the space available on water and are very convenient to be used as residences or schools, for instance.

The objective is to reach 10 000 containers in 5 years, rented in the whole world. “The importance given to slums has opened new opportunities and has put me in touch with many interesting and influential people who understand the necessity for the architects to use their influence and creativity to change the lives of millions of human beings, underlines also Koen Olthuis”.
His approach to improve the coastal towns throughout the world with these floating urban components is a real challenge. « It is just as if we had discovered a small part of the water potential to make the cities more resilient, sure and flexible. I believe that our projects and those of many architects, who use the floating technology as a tool, will open new norms for the cities ».

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Koen Olthuis, Hong Kong design week

By Today’s living


The business of Design Week (BODW), organized by the Hong Kong Design Centre, has been a key event for the local design community since 2002. BODW 2014 saw the arrival of leading designers from Sweden and all over the world,, carrying with them invaluable insights from the fields of architecture, fashion, technology and culture. Today’s Living talked with six of the design heavyweights present at this year’s event, namely Anna Hessle, Erik Nissen Johanson, Koen Olthuis, Lisa Lindstrom, Thomas Eriksson and Marcus Engman. In this issue, we introduce you to three of these interior and architectural leaders, all of whom are masters of their industry.



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Sea Trees , a beautiful way to save the cities

By Ana Swanson
The Washington Post


In many of the world’s fast-growing cities, there isn’t enough room for people to live, let alone wildlife. Our friends beneath us in the food chain are becoming increasingly marginalized—world wildlife populations have decreased by about half over the last 40 years alone. Now, there’s a plan to give urban homes back to wildlife. But these homes aren’t quite urban. They’re, essentially, giant floating trees.

The underwater portion of a “Sea Tree.” (Waterstudio)

Waterstudio, a Dutch architectural firm that specializes in designing floating structures, wants to erect “Sea Trees” in major cities. The structures are multi-tiered, tree-shaped habitats that float near urban areas and could provide sanctuary for birds, bees, bats and small aquatic creatures that might not be cut out for city living in the 21st century.

Based on the technology in oil storage towers, the trees have multiple platforms for accommodating wildlife. The underwater portion can house fish and other sea creatures and even provide an artificial coral reef in climates that will allow it.

Koen Olthius, Waterstudio’s founder, told Fast Company that the concept is ready to be implemented as soon as possible. “Our favorite locations would be Mumbai or New York,” he said. “Both have such a high price on land that it makes the construction of new park zones on land not feasible.”

According to Waterstudio, the design would cost approximately 1 million euros ($1.23 million) to build. The idea, of course, may never actually come to fruition, but it looks like a clever and innovative way for cities to give refuge to animals that badly need it

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La torre acquatica che ospita la biodiversità

By Giulia Mattioli
La Stampa


Sea Tree. Un progetto innovativo per preservare la flora e la fauna selvatiche sfruttando le grandi aree marine e lacustri

Navigare sul sito web di Waterstudioè un notevole viaggio della mente: i loro progetti architettonici, alcuni davvero visionari, si legano indissolubilmente all’elemento acquatico. Case galleggianti, palazzi sottomarini, strutture che funzionano dentro e fuori dall’acqua: se lo scenario del film ‘Waterworld’ si realizzasse veramente, loro saprebbero come adattarvisi. Il confine tra terra e mareper Waterstudio non è un limite, ma una nuova frontiera da esplorare, anche in coscienza del cambiamento climatico e dell’espansione degli agglomerati urbani.

Tra i progetti più audaci e affascinanti dello studio di architettura olandese c’è Sea Tree®, una sorta di palazzo galleggiante che svetta sull’acqua, adibito a giardino dove trovano ospitalità diverse specie animali. Non è un progetto per gli umani, ma per la flora e la fauna costantemente minacciati dall’espansione urbanistica, i cui habitat vengono ristretti e alterati di anno in anno in favore delle necessità della modernizzazione. Conservare la fauna selvatica di ogni territorio è fondamentale, ma l’espansione delle città non ne tiene particolarmente conto, ed ecco che i laghi, i fiumi, i mari potrebbero diventare il luogo dove preservare uccelli, insetti, pipistrelli e piccoli mammiferi.

Sea Tree è un grattacielo di biodiversità, che si può collocare benissimo accanto ad un’area urbana, ma nei suoi bacini idrici, in modo da rimanere isolato e protetto dall’avanzata del cemento. Si tratta di una struttura in acciaio, galleggiante, composta di strati di vegetazione, giardini verticali che provvedono alla sussistenza delle specie animali, che includono dei piani sommersi per piccole creaturine acquatiche e, se la latitudine lo permette, per barriere coralline artificiali, habitat a loro volta per centinaia di esseri viventi. Naturalmente in base alla posizione, alla profondità delle acque, alle mareggiate, alle correnti, alle temperature ogni Sea Tree avrebbe altezze e caratteristiche differenti.

Dal punto di vista della tecnica, Sea Tree si basa su una progettazione molto simile a quella delle piattaforme petrolifere offshore, e proprio alle grandi compagnie si rivolgono i membri di Waterstudio per caldeggiare la realizzazione di un ‘condominio’ marittimo per animali. Oltre alle loro torri di stoccaggio e le loro piattaforme, perché non donare alla natura e alla comunità un Sea Tree, fosse anche solo per dimostrare un po’ di buona volontà nel rendere il mondo che tanto sfruttano un posto migliore? Un progetto forse visionario ma assolutamente innovativo per far luce sulla necessità di proteggere la flora e la fauna selvatica di ogni angolo del Pianeta dove vi sia sufficiente acqua per realizzarlo. E considerata la grande esperienza che ingegneri, architetti, tecnici olandesi hanno nel confrontarsi con l’acqua e con i territori dove terra e mare si fondono, a cui si aggiunge il fatto che le torri per lo stoccaggio del petrolio in mare già esistono, i progettisti di Sea Tree hanno ‘semplicemente’ adattato, modificato le tecnologie già esistenti per fare un favore alla natura.


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Architects Envision The Future Of Nature Preservation, And It’s Beautiful

By Katherine Brooks
Huffington Post


“The waterfront no longer places a limitation on city expansion, in fact it is the new frontier!”

So begins the description for “Sea Tree,” a futuristic nature reserve imagined by Netherlands-based architecture firm, Waterstudio. The wild design, still in the rendering phase, would bring floating steel structures to the shores of urban centers. And inside those steel towers, would be vegetated layers of habitable space, meant for both flora and fauna to flourish in spaces where land and wildlife is scarce.

According to Waterstudio, Sea Tree would be built using the “latest offshore technology,” similar to that used in building oil storage towers in the open ocean. But instead of housing oil, the towers would play home to plant and animal species, working to reduce CO2 emissions along the way.

“Large oil companies will have the opportunity to give back by using their own intellectual property and resources to donate Sea Trees to a community in need,” Waterstudio wrote in a statement to HuffPost, “showing their concern and interest in preserving the distressed wildlife.” It’s a utopian endeavor, sure, but it offers already over-populated metropolises a chance to conserve wildlife within city limits.

The design, inspired by a project in Holland in which ecologists asked the firm to design a green oasis that could not be disturbed by humans, is meant for any waterfront, from riverbanks to sea shores. The height and depth of the structures would be custom constructed according to their specific locations, and would be anchored to the seabed with cables. The birds, bees, bats, and other small animals seeking refuge on a Sea Tree would be left untouched by humans, as would the plant life.

“Most of the innovation on land has been done already,” Koen Olthuis, Waterstudio lead designer and co-founder, explained to The Creator’s Project. “The truly innovative possibilities are found on water… The idea is that we cover the tower with fertile soil and then simply take our hands off of it and let nature do its thing. That’s the exciting part: to see what kind of effect such a green enclave will have.”

When asked when we could expect Sea Tree to become a reality, Ankie Stam at Waterstudio responded to HuffPost: “We’re now in the process of [finalizing] location (with city councils) and finance (with oil companies), for which we have several options. When this is completed we can start construction.”

Waterstudio sent us a selection of images that show the possibilities of Sea Tree. Let us know your thoughts in the comments. And for other floating architectural feats, check out Cristian Ehrmantraut’s prototype for a floating platform that filters the ocean and absorbs plastic.


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The skyscraper NATURE RESERVES: Architects hope to build £790,000 multi-storey habitats above and below water in cities

By Victoria Woollaston
Daily Mail


With green spaces being replaced by building sites and large-scale developments around the world, architects are constantly looking for ways to replace them.
One such concept, devised by a team Dutch-based architects, uses towering structures built with layers of green space in which flora and fauna could live.
Called the Sea Tree, the structures would have space for birds and animals to live above ground, and would be bedded under the sea for fish and coral to inhabit.

‘Urbanisation and climate change put a lot of pressure on available space for nature in city centres,’ explained Waterstudio.
‘New initiatives for adding extra park zones to a city are rare.
‘Yet these kind of additional habitats for birds, bees, bats and other small animals could bring a lot of positive green effects to the environment of a city.’
Waterstudio’s concept is called the Sea Tree and it was designed to add high density, green spots to towns and cities.
According to designs, it would be a floating structure built using layers where animals and birds can live.
The structures would not accessible by man, and would be built using offshore technology and resources, similar to how oil storage towers are built and powered out at sea.
The idea is that large oil companies would donate a Sea Tree, and the trees could be built on rivers, seas, lakes and harbours.
The height and depth of the Sea Tree could also be adjusted depending on where it was placed.
To hold it in place, Waterstudio claims Sea Trees would be moored to the sea bed with a cable system.
Under the water, the Sea Tree would provide a habitat for small water creatures or, if the climate allowed for it, artificial coral reefs.
As well as providing a home for nature, the green structures could help reduce CO2 emissions produced by cities and towns.
‘The beauty of the design is that it provides a solution, and at the same time does not cost expensive space on land.
‘While the effect of the species living in the Sea Tree will affect a zone of several miles around the moored location.
‘For as we know, this floating tower will be the first floating object 100 per cent built and designed for flora and fauna.’
The firm said inspiration came from a project in Holland where ecologists asked them to provide habitats for animals which couldn’t be disturbed by people.
The cost for the Sea Tree design is estimated at €1 million (£786,100), and this would depend on water depth, mooring facilities and transport from construction site to the chosen city.
Further cost differences would depend on the preferred flora and fauna.
Waterstudio said it is in the process of finalising the location of the trees, and discussing costs with oil companies. Once these are complete, they will start construction.

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De Sea Tree is een stap naar de drijvende toekomst van de natuur in de stad

Joost Mollen
The creatorsproject


Voor de mensen die het niet weten: een kamer vinden in Amsterdam is een ramp. De steden hebben nou eenmaal een ruimteprobleem en Amsterdam komt bijvoorbeeld al 15.000 huizen tekort. Maar niet alleen mensen lopen tegen dit woningtekort aan, ook planten en dieren hebben het zwaar. Urbanisatie en klimaatverandering leggen een druk op de beschikbare ruimte voor parken en natuur in stedelijke gebieden. Terwijl er al jaren hard wordt gewerkt aan het vergroten van het aantal woningen in de stad, zijn er helaas maar weinig projecten om nieuwe groene zones te creëren in steden. En dat terwijl parken vet relaxt zijn.

De ultieme oplossing voor dit probleem ligt, wat Waterstudio betreft, op het water. Het Nederlandse architectenbureau is gespecialiseerd in drijvende architectuur en ontwierp eerder al het drijvende ijshotel in Noorwegen en deze superstrakke drijvende villa. Nu wil Waterstudio een heus ‘flatgebouw’ op het water gaan bouwen die speciaal is ontwerpen voor dieren en planten in stedelijke omgevingen. Genaamd de Sea Tree, zal het de eerste drijvende constructie worden die een boost moet geven aan de ecologische systemen van steden. Chillen bovenop de Sea Tree is een no-go want de constructie is afgesloten voor mensen. Maar dat is geen ramp: alleen al kijken naar de ecotoren is genoeg. Hoofdontwerper en medeoprichter van Waterstudio Koen Olthuis nam de tijd om ons meer te vertellen over het project en wanneer we het groene flatgebouw ook in Nederland kunnen verwachten.

The Creators Project: Vertel,  waar komt jullie fascinatie met water vandaan?
Koen Olthuis
: Op het land had je alle innovatie al. Je deed als architect wat kleurtjes op de muur en stak het gebouw in een leuk vormpje en daar hield het op. Op het water lagen alle mogelijkheden. We zijn ons toen als eerste architectenbureau 100 procent op het water gaan focussen. Na een tijdje dachten we: dit moet niet alleen bij drijvende woningen blijven. We zijn toen gaan onderzoeken hoe steden door middel van drijvende concepten verbeterd kunnen worden. Nu zijn we bijvoorbeeld bezig met drijvende parkeerplaatsen, drijvende stadions en natuurlijk de Sea Tree, een constructie die een enorm positief effect zal hebben op de ecologie van een stad. We bouwen zonder ‘littekens’ omdat je al onze concepten zo weer weg kan varen. We lenen ruimte van de natuur en laten het weer achter zoals het daarvoor was.

Hoe is het concept voor de Sea Tree tot stand gekomen?
We werden door ecologen gevraagd om een plek te ontwerpen waar de natuur niet verstoord kon worden door mensen. We hebben toen op basis van technologie die door oliemaatschappijen wordt gebruikt een concept gemaakt waarin we de parken van een stad als het ware in de vorm van een boom op elkaar stapelen. Je kunt de Sea Tree het beste vergelijken met die Red Bull-autootjes die overal rondrijden. Dat is rijdende reclame. De Sea Tree is eigenlijk hetzelfde: het is een hele grote en drijvende groene advertentie voor de stad en de techniek van de oliebedrijven, één die laat zien dat het ook een positief effect kan hebben op de natuur en de stad. Het oliebedrijf behoudt het eigendom van de Sea Tree en de stad wijst een plek aan waar die mag drijven.

Hoe reageren de oliemaatschappijen en steden op het concept? Gaat de Sea Tree ook echt gebouwd worden?
De locatie in steden is geen probleem. We zijn bijvoorbeeld al in Singapore en New York geweest en daar was iedereen super enthousiast. Daarnaast bestaat de technologie ook al. Het punt is dat de bouw van zo’n ding nu al snel één a twee miljoen euro kost en voor dat geld hebben we oliemaatschappijen nodig die mee willen doen. Bij dat soort bedrijven heb je twee soorten partijen werken. Aan de ene kant heb je de mensen van de techniek die het helemaal geweldig vinden. Aan de andere kant heb je de mensen die gaan over de budgeten en advertisement en precies moeten weten wat de positieve en negatieve kanten voor zo’n onderneming zijn. Maar het is heel lastig in te schatten wat voor een effect de Sea Tree gaat hebben. Daar werken we nu aan. Toch zijn we heel positief en denken we dat alles binnen een jaar tijd geregeld kan zijn. Daarna duurt de bouwtijd maar vier tot zes maanden. Het is niets anders dan een drijvende betonconstructie waarop we de natuur haar gang laten gaan.

Als de Sea Tree er ook echt komt, hoe komt het er dan precies uit te zien? Kunnen we hem ook in Nederland verwachten?
De natuur is enorm veerkrachtig. Het idee is dat we de toren bedekken met voedzame aarde en dan de natuur haar gang laten gaan. We trekken onze handen er af en laten de natuur de Sea Tree zelf begroeien en bevolken. We zien dan wel wat voor een effect het gaat hebben. Het zou bijvoorbeeld de dalende bijenpopulatie een huis kunnen bieden, of een plek kunnen bieden voor vogels waarvoor nu geen ruimte is in de stad. De enige twee dingen die ons tegenhouden om dit bijvoorbeeld in Amsterdam te bouwen zijn in principe alleen de vergunning en het geld.

De Sea Tree is afgesloten voor mensen. Wat hebben we er precies aan behalve het ecologisch voordeel?
Ik kan me voorstellen dat als je in zo’n stad woont het enorm leuk is om naar het bouwwerk te kijken of er omheen te varen, je kunt er alleen niet zelf op gaan. Van een afstand denk je wooooww wat een enorme toren, terwijl het met een hoogte van 35 meter in de stad niet eens zo heel hoog zou zijn. Maar drijvend op het water ziet het er juist heel indrukwekkend uit. Het moet alleen geen geintje worden, zoals die enorme badeend die de wereld over ging. Wij willen ook echt een effect hebben.

U bent heel erg bezig om een plek te vinden voor het ecosysteem van de natuur in de stad. Wat denkt u dat een concept zoals de Sea Tree zegt over de richting waarin de mens de natuur stuurt? Is de Sea Tree een oplossing om de natuur een plaats te bieden in een snel urbaniserende wereld?
Nou oplossing, nee, daarvoor is het effect te klein. Als je werkelijk wilt dat de Sea Tree een effect heeft dan moet je er niet één maar gelijk dertig of veertig neerzetten, zoals we in New York bekeken hebben. Maar het geeft wel een hele duidelijke richting waar we naar toe moeten. Op de lange termijn zie ik niet voor me dat de hele wereld straks vol ligt met Sea Tree’s, absoluut niet, maar het zet mensen wel aan het denken over de mogelijkheden van de natuur op het water, zoals grote drijvende parken of drijvende akkers. De Sea Tree is een symbool voor de eerste stap in die richting. Het is als een enorm groen billboard dat naast een goede boodschap ook nog eens een daadwerkelijk effect op de natuur heeft. Dat is natuurlijk prachtig.



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Water Architecture: A chat with Waterstudio and Koen Olthuis

By Enrique Sánchez-Rivera
La Isla

We were intensely captivated by Waterstudio after seeing them featured on National Geographic Magazine. Their incredible innovation skills and clear understanding about the future of architecture and our planet was obvious and ever so present in all of their plans and their current work. From a partially submersed ecological tower to floating islands in the shape of stars, Koen Olthuis and his team are shaping up the future for a post-antarctic ice meltdown era.

1.  Can you tell us how Waterstudio got started and why?
When I was a young architect, I became fascinated by the structure of the Dutch landscape with its water and land. At that time, living on water was still limited to the well-known traditional houseboats. After two years of combined land and water projects, I started up Waterstudio, the first architecture firm in the world exclusively dedicated to living on water. I was a pioneer in a new market. To bring the market to maturity, the main focus
was to change the perception of the general public. Waterstudio began with an ambitious plan to develop innovative concepts in both technological and urban design fields. My conviction that living on water is essentially no different from living on land, just with a different foundation technique, spurred me on to develop types of housing with greater density and higher quality than the usual houseboats in a recreational countryside setting.
2.  If you could define what you do in a sentence, what would it be?
We bring Architecture beyond the waterfront, creating new floating possibilities for growing cities World wide. And to add a second sentence: we have a lot of fun!
3.  Where do you find inspiration for your designs?  Floating structures and underwater urban environments are incredibly new to us so we are curious to know this.
I see architecture as products, since floating buildings are not fixed, their context can change and they are more or less independent from their environment.
May of our ideas are based on shapes and products from nature. I like architecure that looks simple and recognizable. So for instance the starfish design for the greenstar hotel in the Maldives is a design that every child can redraw ones they have seen it. I call this readable architecture.
4.  How expensive do you think it will be to live on a floating structure vs. a land structure?
The price of a building on a floating foundation is comparable to a house on a fixed foundation, the exact price depends on the type of water, deep, shallow, waves, calm water etc.. , Making a floating building for calm water on a lake with less height difference is cheaper to construct than a building in the middle of the ocean.
One of the benefits of construction a floating building is that they don’t have to be constructed on their final location because you can move them afterwards. They can be constructed in a factory, weather doesn’t influence the building process, this makes it faster, easier and cheaper. Nowadays contractors are not used to constructing a floating foundation, when this type of foundation will be more standardized in future the construction of it will be even more cheaper.
5.  How did the idea of the sea tree come along?  Can you tell us about it? When will it be completed?
This is my favourite project.Our inspiration in regards to creating Sea Tree came from a project in Holland where ecologists challenged us to design a habitat for fauna which could not be disturbed by human beings. Water is, of course, a perfect way to keep people away. Other sources of inspiration were the shapes of floating oil storage structures in Norway and the shapes of land trees with a large crowns. Lastly, the concept was developed from park zones in urban areas. We divided these areas into sections and placed them vertically on top of each other. In the end, it has become a vertical hangout for wildlife! We are now in the middle of negotiations with an oil company to see if they will be the sponsor for the project. It will be a green advertisement of their outstanding offshore technology. They could show that from their knowledge also animals and local habitats could benefit.  The sea tree will be built in an protected nursery and afterwards shipped out to its location on water in a city. This would bring an instant green upgrade!
6.  Do you see yourselves also designing underwater environments at some point?  Does that concept also align with your vision?
We already do this. We have a client in Curacao who wants an underwater room. So for him we design a projects in which we have windows under water. In that project we also design the shape of the floating body underwater so that coral and fishes can start use this structures for shelter and basis.
7.  Obviously we like the idea of floating-everything, after all, we make bikinis!  Which of your buildings or projects do you think would be best suited for a bikini fashion show?!
That should be our floating islands for the Maldives called Amillarah.  The girls will enter the show via a small submarine through a hole in the ground of the island and then use the fantastic white artificial beach with real sand and palmtree as a catwalk while the audience gather around the islands  on their yachts.


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Inhabitat interviews Olthuis, Global Mobile Assets

Inhabitat, Bridgette Meinhold, July 2014

INHABITAT INTERVIEW: Water Architect Koen Olthuis on How to Embrace Rising Sea Levels

Sea levels are rising, floods are prevalent, and cities are at greater risk than ever due to climate change. Now that we’ve accepted these facts, it’s time to design and build more resilient structures. Koen Olthuis, one of the most forward-thinking and innovative architects out there, has a solution for rising sea levels. His solution: Embrace the water by incorporating it into our cities; creating resilient buildings and infrastructure that can handle extreme flooding, heavy rains, and higher water. Olthuis and his team at have been showing coastal communities the benefits of building on the water. With countries like the Maldives and Kiribati having to build oceanside or move in order to escape rising sea levels, New York learning to battle storm surges, and Jakarta dealing with massive flooding, embracing water may be our only option for survival. We chatted with Olthuis about how coastal cities can become more resilient in the face of change—read on for our interview!

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Nederlander wil drijvende steden aanleggen in VS

AD Haagshe Courant, Stijn Hustinx, Sep 2013

Een Nederlands bedrijf wil drijvende steden bouwen voor de kusten bij Miami en New York. Vandaag ontvouwt Dutch Docklands zijn plannen. ‘De bedoeling is dat nog dit jaar de eerste contracten worden ondertekend’, zegt Paul van de Camp van het bedrijf tegen het AD.

Dutch Docklands begint ‘klein’, vertelt Van de Camp aan het AD. ‘We hebben bij Miami net een meer van 75 hectare gekocht waar we zestien privé-eilanden willen aanleggen ter waarde van 200 miljoen dollar.’

‘Eilandfundering bestaat uit grote plateaus van schuim en beton’
Op termijn zou het concept kunnen uitgroeien tot compleet drijvende steden, met woningen, scholen, kantoren, winkelcentra en hotels. ‘In landen als Japan en Thailand bestaan drijvende steden al sinds mensenheugenis. Samen met onder meer TNO hebben we grote eilandfunderingen ontwikkeld. Het gaat om drijvende lichamen die bestaan uit grote plateaus van schuim en beton en die kun je zo veel als je wilt aan elkaar vastmaken. Dus of je nu één hotel op een klein drijvend eilandje wilt of een complete stad, het kan. Al zou ik het zeker niet simpel willen noemen. Het lastigste aspect is om de boel te stabiliseren.’

Naast kust Miami ook New York en New Jersey
Het Nederlandse bedrijf heeft niet alleen zijn oog laten vallen op de kustregio van het zonovergoten Miami, maar heeft zich ook gemeld in wereldstad New York en de staat New Jersey om daar drijvende eilanden te gaan bouwen. Plekken die vorig jaar nog hard werden getroffen door superstorm Sandy en het wassende water.

Het is niet zonder reden dat de Nederlanders zich juist hier melden. Op basis van recent onderzoek is een mondiale top 5 samengesteld van rijkste steden die het hardst getroffen zullen worden door de stijgende zeespiegel. Die werd eerder deze maand gepubliceerd door National Geographic. Op nummer 1 staat Miami, New York neemt de derde plek in op de ranglijst. Van de Camp zegt dat hij concrete gesprekken voert met instanties in Miami en New York. Hij verwacht dat nog dit jaar de eerste contracten worden ondertekend.

Minister Schultz van Haegen ook in New York
De ondernemer is niet de enige Nederlander die in de VS munt wil slaan uit de stijgende zeespiegel. Vandaag trappen minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen (Infrastructuur en Milieu) en haar Amerikaanse ambtsgenoot Shaun Donovan een tweedaagse conferentie in New York af, die gaat over kustbescherming.

Nederlandse bedrijven staan sinds superstorm Sandy vorig jaar toesloeg in de rij om New York te helpen te beschermen tegen het water. Dat gebeurde ook al in New Orleans, nadat orkaan Katrina daar in 2005 voor grote overstromingen had gezorgd.

Duurste golfbaan
Dutch Docklands wist een paar jaar geleden al de aandacht op zich te vestigen met de aankondiging van de duurste golfbaan ter wereld, ter waarde van 500 miljoen dollar (ruim 350 miljoen euro) bij de Malediven. Deze golfbaan omgeeft een drijvend stadje van enkele honderden woningen.

Hoewel er op papier al de nodige projecten zijn gelanceerd, krijgt het eerste nu ook echt concreet vorm bij de paradijselijke eilandengroep in de Indische Oceaan, die onder de zeespiegel dreigt te verdwijnen. Dutch Docklands gaat daar vijf lagoons ter grootte van de binnenstad van Delft volbouwen. De eerste wordt eind volgend jaar al opgeleverd.

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