As city real estate space becomes increasingly difficult to find, people are turning towards rivers and oceans and creating their own floating living spaces. These amphibious houses are built on timber frames moored to the shoreline or given a hollow concrete base which gives them buoyancy. Because the houses remain partially connected, unlike a boathouse, they install “plug in and play” electricity and gas lines from the mainland all while remaining partially mobile. Most importantly, they are safe from mild storms and floods.
These waterfront homes have been popular in the Netherlands since the early 2000’s, where several thousand of these dot the Rivers Maas and Waal. While the country’s traditional response to rising tides and intermittent floods has been to build dykes and move inland, some developers are embracing the conditions and building amphibious houses where floods are most likely to occur. Most innovations in this housing sector stem from the Netherlands' need for space (including Waterstudio’s ambitions to create a floating city).
Some of these ideas have leaked into other countries, including the United States and Thailand. Since Hurricane Katrina showed the U.S.’ weak response to natural disasters, homeowners have been taking matters into their own hands. Over 5,000 floating homes can be found across the American continent, with a concentration in river-heavy Portland and a floating village in Vancouver. While stilted houses are nothing new in Thailand, the government is applying the Netherlands’ advances to build larger structures in Bangkok, such as hospitals or schools.
However, most of these houses are still not affordable to the general public: Waterstudio’s projects in the Maldives acutally include plans for villas and golf courses, and River Maas’ waterfront properties sell for $315,000 a piece. But as draining and utility linkage becomes cheaper and mainstream interest grows, developers will hopefully accommodate a larger public. Additionally, they may be forced to: by 2025 the Netherlands will need 500,000 extra homes, and there is not enough space to build all of them on land.
Read here the full articles (sources):
"La maison flottante : une réponse à l'urbanisme ?"
Published on Eti-construction.fr - April 26, 2012
"Dutch pioneer floating eco-home"
Published on BBC News by Alex Kroeger - March 1, 2007)
"A growing answer to rising seas: floating homes"
Published on CSMonitor.com by Denis Gray - April 1, 2012
"Water Architect Koen Olthuis on Floating Buildings & Hydro-Cities"
Published on Inhabitat.com by Diane Pham - May 22, 2011
"International Marine builds many floating villages"
Published on Daily Commercial News and Construction Record - October 29, 2007