Combatting water, living with water.
Considering certain global trends such as urbanisation, disastrous weather events and migration from dangerous parts of the world, there’s an unsolved problem of finding sufficient safe and affordable space for people to live and work in. If we want to create new space, we need to think outside the box and create innovative, sustainable projects.
One meaningful approach could be to develop and build what is known as “floating cities” – constructions floating on water which can be compounded into relatively small settlements or even larger urban structures.
The rationale for planning floating cities is quite convincing:
• Floating houses and cities don’t require any expensive ground
• They protect those who live in them against floods, inundation and the consequences of a rising sea level
• They can provide additional residential space in overcrowded cities and offer refugees a new home.
Floating Pavilion · Rotterdam, Netherlands
For centuries, the Dutch have invented effective solutions to prevent the disastrous effects of floods – no wonder floating homes have been built there for a very long time. A more recent case in point was the installation of a “floating pavilion” in Rotterdam’s inland harbour in 2013, an outstanding example of innovative, sustainable architecture to meet the challenges associated with climate change. The pavilion was developed as a showcase project for the city of Rotterdam. The 8,000-sqm space hosts an exhibition about Rotterdam’s agenda for adapting to climate change. It’s a useful venue for events with up to 1,000 guests. The huge floating support structure of the pavilion was made of styrofoam. The entire construction is connected to pontoons. Two wide bridges connect the island with the mainland. Rotterdam’s showcase project was developed by a Dutch company called Deltasync. The support structure was designed by William Roël, who works with the FlexBase construction company.
Floating Pavillon //
Seasteading Institute · Feasibility Study for French Polynesia
Visionaries, architects and construction companies have combined resources in a think tank named “Seasteading”, based in California since 2008, in order to develop floating homes and cities.
One of the basic advantages of floating homes is their mobility – they are relatively easy to transport from one place to another. Several units can be connected to form a small settlement with a fixed location near the waterfront. Alternatively, it seems to be feasible to develop larger communities floating at a distance from the mainland. Such a town could be docked to the seabed up to a depth of 250 metres, which is an option in regions with mountain ridges below the surface of the sea. For floating cities, a supplies infrastructure connection to the mainland has to be developed, which would include utilities such as electricity, waste water and household waste disposal. In floating communities, new jobs can be in fields such as marine research, underwater mining or fish farming.
The initiative is set to launch its first real-life project soon: In January 2017, the Seasteading Institute signed a contract with French Polynesia, an archipelago severely threatened by rising sea levels. If the sea level were indeed to rise, large parts of Tahiti would be flooded. If and how a small floating town off the shore would give the islanders more protection and safety is currently being analysed in a feasibility study by researchers and developers at the Seasteading Institute. A film containing more information on this project is available («A Concept to Recovery«).
Seasteading Institut //
Harvest City Project · Haiti, Hispaniola
By E. Kevin Schopfer in cooperation with Tangram 3DS (Visuals)
Haiti, an island nation located on Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles, was shaken by a major earthquake in 2010. Many islanders have still not recovered from the event and many parts of the country have not yet been rebuilt. However, pioneering experts have now developed concepts for a better, more sustained infrastructure. Among these experts, there’s a team consisting of E. Kevin Schopfer, a Boston-based architect, and Tangram 3DS, which presented the “Harvest City” project in 2011 – a floating city for a new Haiti to become home to approx. 30,000 people. “Harvest City” is an idea best described as a renaissance to benefit the population.
Insular modules are connected to form this city. It will have its own infrastructure and it will even be possible to grow crops there. As new businesses move in, jobs are created to add growth momentum. Schools, offices and public space will be developed in the city centre. “Harvest City” is designed and anchored so that hurricanes and typhoons have little impact and will not jeopardise the city. E. Kevin Schopfer believes the concept doesn’t just mark a new beginning for Haiti: It could become a “charter city” to pave the way for developing new political, social and urban structures elsewhere too – facilitating, for example, a new start for crisis-ridden zones in other parts of the world.