Floating architecture and living in houses over water

Floating architecture and living in houses over water

Extreme weather events lead to new solutions to create urban models in harmony with the environment.

One of these solutions is floating architecture.

Which arises in response to the 10% of the world’s population  living under the threat of sea level rise.


Floating architecture and living in houses over water


Floating architecture

Floating architecture is emerging as a response to climate migration,

It is a phenomenon that causes people to change their place of residence due to severe climate changes.

Some building models offer an alternative to floods and torrents, while solving the problem of housing shortages in cities. ”

Given the impact of climate change and the fact that only 30% of the planet’s surface is dry land,

We have to think about the opportunity to live with water instead of fighting against it,

And claim the land with which they will eventually conquer us.


Floating architecture and living in houses over water


The beginnings of floating architecture

Floating villages may seem like a new concept, but they go back to the origins of the kampung, on Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake.

On Uros Island in Peru, miles away, residents have also settled in homes on the water.

Realizing the richness of the aquatic environment, they decided to use wooden structures and marine plants to create living spaces.

In addition to these examples from different latitudes,

there is another region with a long historical tradition of building on water: the Netherlands.

During the Golden Age in the former province of Flanders, especially in Amsterdam,

Alternatives have been sought to deal with sea level rise off the dune coast,

mainly with the flooding of the Rhine and Meuse rivers.

In fact, the Dutch Law on Floating Buildings (2003) is one of the most progressive in the world.

In Amsterdam we already find 2,500 houses of this type, and in the Netherlands about 100,000 houses.

There is no doubt that this region is considered a reference in construction,

as it is currently also a pioneer in the construction of villages on roofs.


Floating architecture and living in houses over water


Types of floating architecture

This type of structure, in the Dutch case, is usually metal boats,

Historic or renovated ( Shark and Wonshippen, respectively) or concrete submarine attached to the pier (“Arken”).

There are further variations according to their ability to change location: mobile boats (water habitation, according to Dutch law) or a semi-permanent building structure.

There are also hybrid models such as amphibious dwellings, which remain on land during low tide.

These characteristics will also determine the type of electricity and water source that will be integrated.

Depending on whether or not it can be connected to a local network or whether it has to be standalone.



Building materials used in floating architecture

These structures are built by assembling parts on a floating concrete platform.

Large rafts and rafts (buoys) of various shapes are used.

Depending on the location and loads to be supported or the characteristics of the water in which it will be immersed .

These pontoons are made of reinforced concrete, although there are also those made of polyethylene.

It is a light, non-absorbent plastic material designed for small and light structures.

Wastewater treatment tanks are integrated into it.

All floating structures are also kept fifty to sixty centimeters above the waterline to avoid splashing liquids and moisture.

What type of materials are used to build floating buildings?

Wood is an essential element, both for its technical properties and for the sustainability it brings to real estate assets.

The packages consist of a wooden structure that is finished with a final panel on the outside.

They are combined with mechanical joints, without chemicals, to ensure a pleasant and healthy indoor climate.


Floating architecture and living in houses over water


Advantages and disadvantages of floating architecture

What are the advantages and disadvantages of floating architecture? Is it really the key to future urbanization?

For Richard Coates, creator of Amphibious Homes in 2015,

this would provide “the necessary 440,000 homes that would alleviate the housing problem in London alone”.

To this housing solution are the low price of the plot of land, cost reduction and speed of construction using manufacturing systems,

In addition to protection from floods, if on land, and from earthquakes thanks to the properties of water as a seismic buffer.

The drawbacks are currently extending the useful life of these assets as long as possible exposed to high humidity conditions and potentially ending up with overpopulation in the seascape .

Amsterdam had to limit the number of floating buildings to avoid congestion of the canals.


Read also: The monumental concepts of architecture and their relationship to shaping the urban future