New Dutch homes float above rising sea levels.
When it comes to nature, it may be a better attitude to ‘go with the flow’ than to fight it. That’s what Noah did. And that’s the attitude of the Dutch. In the Netherlands, one quarter of the land is below sea level and 50% is only one meter above sea level. So it stands to reason that the idea of rising sea levels caused by global warming is something perhaps not as foreign or frightening an idea to the Dutch as it has been to those of us in other parts of the globe. Their attitude is to work with it. And they’re doing that in some pretty amazing ways.
According to an article in Wired Magazine , the Dutch key in on three necessities for keeping the floors dry above high tide: a buoyant foundation, flexible utility pipes, and a leash to tether the house to its property line.
Companies in Holland, like Waterstudio, specialize in architecture and city planning related to life on water. It’s a serious proposition in the Netherlands. All of the universities work together in a government sponsored program focused on “climate-proofing” the Netherlands. These architects are leading the way in innovative and often remarkable flood-proof homes.
Faston Architecten’s design in Maasbommel is actually an amphibious home. When the water levels are normal, the house rests on land. But when the water level rises, the house floats and rises right along with it. The design is for a house that sits on a hollow concrete foundation and is attached to six iron posts implanted in the bottom of the river. When the water rises, the house rises as much as 5 ½ meters (a little over 18 feet) and is held in place by two mooring posts that connect it to the house beside it. Built by Dura Vermeer, there are 46 such houses in Maasbommel now, part of an exciting experiment for a new way to live which addresses not only the issue of rising sea levels due to climate change, but a rising need for new housing.
In an article published on cnn.com in August 2007, Dura Vermeer spokesman Johan van der Pol said that they have received inquiries from all over the world and that they are working with companies in the Far East, Asia, America, and elsewhere in Europe.
Amsterdam-based Studio Noach founder Michel Kreuger takes things to yet another level with his “Green Floating” concept. The idea is to live on water on a foundation made of recycled waste. The idea may not appeal to many people, but when you think of the volumes of plastic bottles showing up in our oceans, rivers, and streams, the mounds of trash at dump sites, etc., the idea that something beautiful, sustainable, and affordable can be made from all this becomes as appealing as the visual result. With an ecological and botanical coating of plants and flowers, these homes offer a new vision of life afloat--something truly artistic and futuristic. And as an important bonus, the energy savings is up to 70%.
Houseboats have long been popular in Holland, but houses that rise with the tide are not just floating around in the Netherlands, but the U.S. as well. In October 2009, thanks in large part to the efforts of Brad Pitt (yes, that Brad Pitt), a house that can ride the rising floodwaters made its appearance in New Orleans. Called the FLOAT House, it can sustain its own water and power, handle a flood the size of Hurrican Katrina, and can be manufactured for a price that falls within the ‘low-income’ housing range. Like the typical shotgun houses found throughout New Orleans and the infamous Lower Ninth Ward, so damaged by Katrina, the FLOAT House sits atop a raised base which integrates all mechanical, electrical, plumbing and sustainable systems. In the case of flooding, it floats. The FLOAT’s convenient "chassis" is designed to support a number of customizable house configurations.
And it gets even more creative and fantastic. In New York City, Brian Novello, a partner in GRO Architects notable concept, has a design using modular docking stations in energy-collecting floating houses. The floating walkways extend from piers and use the river current to run their large turbines. While power is being generated silently, passersby can use the spaces for anything from walkways to residences.
Who knows what the future has in store in terms of global warming and rising tides, but those of us who live afloat may already be ahead of the game. And those of us considering it may have new incentive. Our bodies are 70% water, afterall. Before being born, we developed in an environment of warm, protective water. We are water. Perhaps it’s time to go back home.