By Erin GiglJul 17
As sea levels are on the rise, the need for “Aquatecture” surges. Architects and designers have been implementing ideas that reconsider water for several years. The New Orleans’ FLOAT House designed by Morphosis architects in 2009, for example, is a prefabricated home with a secure chassis made to float in case of...
As sea levels are on the rise, the need for “Aquatecture” surges. Architects and designers have been implementing ideas that reconsider water for several years. The New Orleans’ FLOAT House designed by Morphosis architects in 2009, for example, is a prefabricated home with a secure chassis made to float in case of flooding. On a larger scale, Haiti’s Harvest City concept, proposed in 2009, envisions an entire floating community with housing, schools and agriculture.
Designers are taking hints from innovators in the Netherlands who have been ahead of the game for a while. With a quarter of the country below sea level, its bounty of canals help maximize both housing and public structures. Take the international studio DRMM, whose project The Dutch Way, an infrastructure of houseboats on London’s waterways, was inspired by Dutch ingenuity.
However, not all initiatives have been able to fight against conditions. Although visionary, the Makoko Floating public school project in Lagos designed by Kunle Adeyemi was shattered by a storm this year.
Today design is floating towards sustainable architecture that unites communities to their waterways. ArchiExpo presents the best floating structures, from intimate spaces to whole cities, that challenge how we think of habitation off land.
Floatwing is a prefabricated house that can be called home or a place away from home. The made-to-measure construction was designed by a team at the University of Coimbra who recently rebranded themselves under the name Friday.
The craft is self-sustaining for up to a week and can be ordered motorized or not, with or without solar panels. With an established width of 6 meters and a length that varies between 10 and 18 meters, the house comes with a variety of layouts and can be shipped anywhere in the world.
Inspired by Scandinavian bathing practices, Seattle’s goCstudio designed its own sauna meant to drift on Lake Union. The buoyant WA Sauna was named after its home state of Washington, and was launched after it raised funding through a Kickstarter campaign in 2014.
Socially inclined, the spruce-made interior benches seat six people, who are warmed by the wood-burning stove. After a sweat, visitors can jump in the cold lake or hop into a boat or kayak that can be tied up to the aluminum-framed deck. Floating upon two dozen 8-liter plastic drums, the vessel’s 36-volt trolling motor is electric, keeping the planet in mind.
School of Thought
Property Fund Copenhagen International School launched the “Nordhavn Islands” international competition to design the landscape in the harbor basin in front of the school. Denmark’s C.F. Møller Landscape recently won first prize for its Nordhavn Islands project proposal, which puts the Copenhagen International School afloat in the harbor basin of Nordhavn, Copenhagen.
The three islands will be focused on different things as events, water sports such as kayak polo, and the Sun Bath, an external space of the school with a sauna and swimming space accessible by outside visitors. The school will consist of wood-clad pontoon islands and green planting while partially sunken steel grilles provide support for green floating aqua-gardens.
With construction expected to begin this fall, the project intends to generate community building and to highlight Danish culture’s water-based heritage.
“It is a crucial part of the project that you always have a close physical and mental connection to water and nature. The use of floating structures gives us a unique chance to get close to the water level at all times, compared to a pile-based structure,” Julian Weyer, partner at C.F. Møller Architects, and Lasse Palm, head of C.F. Møller Landscape, told ArchiExpo.
Aequorea is not only a series of floating skyscrapers, it’s a futuristic, sea-based community. The Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut re-laid the concept in 2015 through the voice of a fictional aquanaut-teen from 2065 who describes how her people live. Via the letter, one understands that the construction of 3-D-printed buildings off the coast of Rio de Janiero will be made of argoplast.
The material is concocted by the broken-down mass of plastics in the ocean mixed with a gelling algae, creating a filament for 3-D printers. Using gill masks to breath, the 20,000 aquanauts will be able to enter the world below sea level through marine domes that measure 500 meters in diameter. Océane, the sea-teen, writes about an inspiring change:
“For the past 50 years, these inhabitants of the sea managed to revolutionize the way we live together through environmental resilience and intensive energy transition.”
Beyond simple buildings, architecture studio AT Design Office invented The Floating City, a system of prefabricated hexagonal blocks combined to form a city at sea. Zero-carbon and energy-efficient, the self-sufficient society will have access to entertainment, hotels, transportation to green spaces with farms and eco-conscious waste facilities.
The project is commissioned by Chinese construction firm CCCC-FHDI to use the same technologies that are being used for the construction of a 31-mile bridge between Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai. The technology will include casting concrete modules on land that will be sent out to sea and puzzled together by an underwater infrastructure that winds tunnels, roads and footpaths.
It’s undeniable that as the climate shifts, design that counts will go with the flow. More than expanding our definition of habitation, aquatecture holds hope for the future. Adaptable, floating structures promise to clean and revitalize our waterways.