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Architecture, urban planning and research in, on and next to water
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Sea Trees: Architects Present Innovative Ways To Create New Ecosystems, HUFFPOST

HUFFPOST, Kia Makarechi, Jan 2012

Dutch architectural firm Waterstudio aims to create habitats that can’t be disturbed by human populations, and they’ve captured the world’s attention — and imagination — with their “sea trees.”

The concept is at once simple and revolutionary: a floating, stratified park that provides a home for both above-ground and underwater creatures.

The Huffington Post interviewed a representative of the firm about the project. In the below email exchange, Waterstudio reveals how they were inspired by offshore drilling platforms used by oil companies, the cost for a sea tree and whether or not the plans can actually be realized.

HuffPost Arts: While the Sea Trees are certainly valuable concepts, does the necessary
technology exist to make them a reality?

Waterstudio: Yes it is all existing and proven technology. Our Dutch heritage with hundreds of years fighting against the water has provided us with a lot of innovative floating solutions. The oil companies use these floating storage towers already for years, we only gave them a new shape and function. For the green and fauna solutions, we have the best institutes and university here in Holland which have provided us with the concepts to use these structures as a catalyst for the growth of habitats.

HuffPost Arts: Your firm hopes offshore oil companies could “donate” a Sea Tree to
communities they affect — did offshore oil rigs provide any inspiration in
terms of design? What else inspired you?

Waterstudio: It is not about donating but about another way of executing their positive attitude against the environment. The Sea Tree is a “City App,” a floating product that can be added to a city in a manner similar to adding an app on your smart phone. The oil company still holds ownership, and the city provides a location. Inspiration came from a project in Holland where ecologists forced us to provide habitats for animals which couldn’t be disturbed by people. Water is of course a perfect way to keep people away. The shape of a floating oil storage structures in Norway brought another inspiration combined with regular shapes of tree with a big crown on top. The concept idea is that we took park zones in urban areas, we divided them in pieces and put them vertically on top of each other, at the end it became a vertical hangout for wild life!

HuffPost Arts: Is there any estimate as to the cost?

Waterstudio: The cost is estimated at $4.5 million for the shown design. Depending on water depth, mooring facilities and transport from construction site to the chosen city. Further cost differences depend on the preferred flora and fauna.

HuffPost Arts: I read that your firm imagines the Sea Trees would be at home in any body
of water, but where would you most like to see the first one?

Waterstudio: These Sea Trees make sense in a highly dense urban area where water is available. This covers almost 90 percent of the world’s largest cities. Our favorite locations would be either Mumbai or New York. Both have such a high m2 price on land that it makes the construction of a parkzone on land not feasible. A Sea Tree on water would be a solution as well a perfect show case for the oil company to attract attention for their environmental program. Imagine this Sea Tree floating in Upper Bay, New York — it would become an eco-hub between Manhattan and Brooklyn.

HuffPost Arts: The project has clearly caused a stir in the arts and architecture worlds
— have you had any interest from investors or possible partners?

Waterstudio: Yes we have. It is indeed amazing how this concept has gone viral. We get a lot of media requests on a daily basis. It shows the general global interest of people in these kinds of green floating solutions. But media doesn’t build, so we are very happy that we have had both ecological institutes as well as representatives of cities who have started conversation with us. At the same time, we see a growing environmental and sustainable focus by most of the major oil companies.

HuffPost Arts: How long did the project take to draft?

Waterstudio: A few months, and the process involved ecologists, architects, engineers and urban planners.

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Sea Tree / Waterstudio.NL

ArchDaily, Karen Cilento, Jan 2012

As a response to urban density, Waterstudio.NL has created a floating Sea Tree that would restore environmental value in crowded metropolises.  The Sea Tree, a multilayered tower-esque structure, would inhabit the harbors and rivers surrounding major cities, such as New York, as a way to provide an opportunity for flora and fauna even when land is sparse.

More about the Sea Tree after the break.

Prefabricated offshore, the structure would be built and designed to only support plant and animal life above and below the water.  A system of cables allows the tree to sway a bit in the wind while securing it to the sea bed; and the height of the structure can be adjusted to suit the selected location.

The idea is that large oil companies would donate a Sea Tree to a city showing their concern for a better city environment by using their own intellectual property.

The Sea Tree can be envisioned as part of a larger network where several trees are placed at particular spots along the edges of cities to truly enhance the environmental quality of the selected sites. “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 effect a zone of several miles around the moored location,” explained the designer.

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Waterstudio.NL ontwerpt drijvende toren, Jan 2012

Waterstudio.NL heeft een nieuw concept ontworpen voor groene ruimtes in de stad: de Sea Tree. De ‘boom’-toren is een drijvend bouwwerk dat begroeid wordt door planten en enkel toegankelijk is voor dieren.

De Sea Tree wordt met dezelfde technologieën gebouwd als een olieplatform. De ‘boom’ wordt met een kabel vastgemaakt aan de bodem van het water waar het zich in bevindt. De hoogte en breedte van de toren kan worden aangepast aan zijn omgeving. Zo kan het bouwwerk in een zee, rivier, meer of haven worden geplaatst. Ook beweegt de boom mee met de wind.

Het bouwwerk is bedoeld als huis voor verschillende kleine dieren die zowel boven als onder water leven. De boom kan volgens het bureau onder water eventueel ook dienen als plek voor een kunstmatig koraalrif.

Het idee van Waterstudio.NL is om oliebedrijven de boom te laten schenken aan een stad of gemeente. Zo kan het bedrijf laten zien een betere leefomgeving voor de stad te willen creëren.

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Click here to read the article’s Sea Tree is a Protected Floating Habitat for Flora and Fauna

Inhabitat, Bridgette Meinhold Dec 2011

The Sea Tree, designed by Amsterdam-based led by Koen Olthuis, is a floating habitat that creates a safe haven for flora and fauna both underwater and above it. As urbanization and climate change advance, the respective habitats for animals and plants are at a greater risk, especially in urban centers. To counteract some of those factors, came up with these protected reserves to help bring positive environmental benefits to the city.

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That’s an idea worth floating: The amazing wildlife haven built on water designed to combat urban pollution

Daily Mail, Graham Smith, Jan 2012

Wide open spaces in cities are becoming an increasingly scarce commodity as the world’s urban population continues to expand.

Now an architect has developed a floating park that is a haven for wildlife and will in turn address the rise in pollution.

Koen Olthuis, of Dutch firm Waterstudio, has unveiled the Sea Tree, a multi-tiered structure comprising of layered green habitats.

The water-based park will provide valuable living areas for birds, bees, bats and other small animals, bringing positive green effects to urban environments.

It will also extend underwater, providing aquatic creatures with an environment to thrive.

Designed for use in cities with large waterways, such as London and New York, the Sea Trek will not be accessible to humans.

Mr Olthuis came up with the concept because it is so difficult to add extra park zones to a city on land. Open space such as rivers, seas, lakes and harbours should instead be utilised, he believes.

He proposes using offshore technology similar to oil rigs to construct the Sea Trees and has even suggested that oil companies donate them to cities to show ‘their concern for a better city environment’.

The giant floating towers would be moored to the seabed with underwater cables; the height and depth of the Sea Tree can be adjusted depending on the location.

Mr Olthuis said: ‘Underwater, the Sea Tree provides a habitat for small water creatures or even, when the climate allows for it, artificial coral reefs.

‘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.’

Waterstudio claims the structure will be fully realised within two years and that an undisclosed client has already expressed a keen interest.

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Zaluma yra gerai, bet vandens zydryne-dar geriau

June 2014

Structum, Jurgita Siliuniene

Architektūriniai sprendimai ant vandens nėra įprasti ir kasdieniški, tad kokios klientų ir kolegų reakcijos sulaukia jūsų projektai?

Gyvename laikais, kai technologiškai beveik viskas yra įmanoma. Mes naudojame įprastas ir laiko patikrintas technologijas, kurios jau seniai taikomos projektuojant plūduriuojančias naftos platformas ar didelius kruizinius laivus.

Didžiausias iššūkis, su kuriuo susiduriame šiandien, – tai žmonių, tiek klientų, tiek valstybinių institucijų, mąstymas ir supratimas apie gyvenimą ant vandens. Manau, kad ateityje plaukiojantys pastatai ar net plaukiojantys miestai bus kasdienybė ir nedaug skirsis nuo įprastų miestų, prie kokių esame įpratę šiandien.

Žinoma, taip pat svarbu užtikrinti, kad plaukiojantys pastatai turėtų tą patį komforto lygį ir kainuotų tiek pat, kaip ir pastatai ant žemės. Vienintelis tokių architektūrinių sprendimų skirtumas – plūduriuojantis pagrindas, sudarytas iš plūduriuojančių platformų junginio, kurį prireikus galima praplėsti, prijungiant papildomas platformas. Tai mes vadiname „City apps“ – plūduriuojančių miestų komponentais. Tai gali būti papildomas stadionas, golfo aikštynas, naujas namų kvartalas arba nauji keliai.

Naudojant „City apps“ plaukiojantį miestą galima transformuoti ir pritaikyti pagal gyventojų poreikius. Tokie architektūriniai sprendimai labai tinka prie vandens įsikūrusioms bendruomenėms, yra mėgstami salynų kurortuose, be to, tai puiki galimybė tankiai apgyvendintoms teritorijoms, pavyzdžiui, Kinijoje.

Kokia buvo jūsų idėjos įgyvendinimo pradžia?

Jaunystėje mane labai žavėjo Olandijos kraštovaizdis, šalies vandens ir žemės struktūra. Tuo metu gyvenimas ant vandens buvo įmanomas tik specialiai tam pritaikytuose laivuose. Taigi siekdamas įgyvendinti savo idėją – apgyvendinti žmones ant vandens – 2002 m. pabaigoje įkūriau pirmąją pasaulyje miestų ant vandens architektūros įmonę „Waterstudio.NL“.

Esu šios rinkos pradininkas, tad teko įdėti nemažai pastangų, norint pakeisti plačiosios visuomenės suvokimą apie gyvenimą ant vandens.

Ar gyvenimas ant vandens turi tradicijų?

Olandijoje žmonės ant vandens gyvena jau daugiau nei 100 metų – čia yra įprastų laivinių namų, kurie plaukioja upėmis, miestų kanalais.

Kuo skiriasi architektūra ant žemės ir ant vandens?

Vienintelis dalykas, kuris skiriasi nuo sausumos, – plūduriuojantis pagrindas. Taip pat, jei namai statomi ant jūros paviršiaus, naudojamos sūriam vandeniui atsparios medžiagos.

Kiek ir kokių projektų esate įgyvendinęs?

Įgyvendiname savo sprendimus visame pasaulyje – Maldyvuose, JAV, Indijoje. Nyderlanduose jau pastatėme daugiau nei šimtą plūduriuojančių namų ir pastatų. Šiuo metu įgyvendiname ypatingą projektą – nedidelio biudžeto būsto sprendinius lūšnynų bendruomenėms.

Milijonai žmonių gyvena lūšnynuose prie vandens, jiems kyla nuolatinė potvynių ir cunamių grėsmė, tad mūsų tikslas, naudojant plaukiojančių namų architektūrinius sprendimus, padėti žmonėms susikurti tokį būstą, kuris nebūtų suniokojamas gamtos stichijų.

Tačiau ar saugus toks būstas ant vandens, ypač turint omenyje , kad jūros lygis kyla?

Taip, kai kyla jūros lygis, saugiausia vieta ir yra ant vandens.

Kokią įtaką miestai ant vandens turės architektūros tradicijoms?

Tai niekaip nepakeis pačios architektūros, tik pakeis mūsų mąstymą apie miestus, gyvenamąjį ar pramoninį būstą.

Šiuolaikiniai dizaineriai yra klimato kaitos karta, tad turėtų pradėti mąstyti apie dinamiškas, o ne statiškas statybų konstrukcijas.

Ar ši architektūra yra nekenksminga gamtai?

Mums labai svarbus ekologinis tvarumas. Ant vandens galime išgauti tvarią saulės energiją, be to, nenaudojamus namus lengva perkelti į kitą vietą. Palyginkite – ant žemės stovintys nenaudojami, griūvantys pastatai metų metus niekieno neprižiūrimi darko kraštovaizdį ar miesto architektūrą.

Vanduo mums suteikia unikalią galimybę kurti tvarias technologijas, taigi žaluma yra gerai, bet vandens žydrynė – dar geriau!

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