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Floating homes: a solution to flooding, crowded cities and unaffordable housing


As climate change and global warming advances, there is an increasing potential for gradually rising sea levels, along with more frequent and severe hurricanes & flooding, heavy rain,

earthquakes & tsunami, and other natural disasters. Proper countermeasures against these natural disasters in terms of architecture are urgently needed. New trends of living indicate people prefer to live in a

peaceful and comfortable house while enjoying safe & natural atmosphere and keeping a strong sense of community.

Therefore new types of future-oriented housing needs to be provided in order to address both climate change and meet the psychosocial needs of a growing number of people who live in high risk low lying and coastal areas.

Architects and city planners across the world are starting to look beyond the traditional confines of the city, towards building on water as one of the answers to reducing inner-city population density and also developing flood-resilient designs.

Floating architecture is nothing new. Traditional floating villages are common in deltas and along the Mekong river in south-east Asia. But integrating age-old designs into a modern city is a different matter entirely.

Some cities are further ahead than others. IJBurg is a collection of floating houses built on six artificial islands on IJ Lake in Amsterdam, designed by Marlies Rohmer. It was conceived to deal with the city’s critical housing shortage problem as well as its vulnerability to flooding – more than half of the Netherlands is at or below sea level.

Concept of floating house

There can be three kinds of houses with buoyant systems such as floating houses, amphibious houses, and floatable houses according to the site condition.

1) Floating House

A floating house can be defined as a house for living space that floats on the water with a floatation system,but

is moored in a permanent location, does not include a water craft intended for navigation, and has a utility services systems served through a connection to urban supply/return system between the floating building structure and a service station on land, or it has self-supporting service facilities for itself.

2) Amphibious House

An amphibious house lies on the ground or on a structure above the water line except during flood periods and is likely

to float when the water level rises during flooding .

It does not therefore float permanently, unlike a floating house, which can be found in many countries in urban areas along lakes or slow-flowing rivers. This kind of house can be accessed from both the road by car and the water by boat.

3) Floatable House

A floatable house has a buoyant foundation which allows an otherwise-ordinary structure on the ground to float on the surface of rising floodwater rather than succumb to inundation.

A buoyant foundation retains a home’s connection to the ground by resting firmly on the earth under usual circumstances, but it allows a house to float as high as necessary when

flooding occurs.


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