Leave it to the Dutch to come up with “amphibious houses” – a concept that makes sense in a landscape where solid ground is yearly sinking. Residents and planners are looking into the future with concern over flooding and heavy rain, an issue that will be compounded by rising water levels from global warming.

In response to this problem, the field of maritime architecture is gaining momentum. One notable architect, Koen Olthuis, has created some astoundingly beautiful water dwellings. What differentiates these from standard houseboats is a patented technology which allows the foundation of the construction to be transformed into a float. A foam core is encased in concrete, with steel cables securing it against the pull of potential currents.

Olthius’ company is looking not only at individual residences, but at creating maritime settlements, which is easily done, since his designs are linkable, “like LEGO blocks.” In the bottom image, one such settlement is pictured from an aerial perpective, giving a sense of the layout of these swimming developments.

The reassurance offered to residents in knowing that their homes will respond to rising water by floating on the surface is invaluable. Such technologies will obviously be relevant and necessary in many other parts of the world as demands for space drive people towards the coast, and climate change creates unpredictable scenarios for those who take up residence there.

Via Spiegel Online




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  1. Kymmaree July 28, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Vietnamese fishing villages are floating villages in Halong Bay. They look lovely but I am sure sewage goes straight into the bay so it is hardly pristine, a great shame. They seemed to have survived there now for a long time but I would like to know what they do when typhoons approach. Do they tie up on the lea side of the many precipitous islands or simply ride it out wherever they are? Would modern floating villages or suburbs do the same?

  2. barauxe June 8, 2008 at 3:46 am

    Dear Sir Koen,
    I am currently doing my thesis regarding floating houses in a marshland here in the Philippines.
    And I happened to be interested about your amphibious concept. There are actually houses there that are like amphibious the fact that they sit on the ground and float when it floods. But they\\\’re indigenous and lack of technology since it\\\’s a very remote area. They don\\\’t even have proper sanitation. That\\\’s why I\\\’m very interested into doing something that can help those people living in there. However, I am having difficulty finding any additional information on the project that is not offered on the site.

    If you please share to me more information about this, I would really appreciate your support. Thanks!

  3. jon walters December 6, 2007 at 9:06 pm

    they look horrible and i suppose they cost an arm ad a leg but then you can always justify the cost by saying these are environmetally friendly lol

  4. allan July 9, 2007 at 9:35 pm

    can I see the complete design of an amphibious house?

  5. David Martyn April 16, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    I am an Architect living and working in south-west France. I am about to embark on a project to build experimental avant-garde floating houses on my 16 hectare lake near Bordeaux. The scheme will include many eco-friendly features and the houses will ‘f’ollow the sun’ to optimise solar electricity generation and maximise passive solar gain in the winter as they pivot around a central anchor point. There are no waves on my lake but wind may be a problem. My houses sit on three triangular floats and the design is essentially a three-sided fabric clad, timber-framed pyramid. Sewage is stored in a tank hung below the raised deck to increase weight on the floats so to maximise stability for this otherwise lighweight design. The houses are graceful in design with generous terraces and are designed to be moved around the lake on a regular basis with each mooring point providing a new vista for the occupants of the house in addition to access to water and electricity services and a waste water collection point. All warnings and helpful advice will be welcome and heeded!

  6. Inhabitat » DUTCH... April 2, 2007 at 4:59 am

    […] covered Amphibious Houses in the past, and the Dutch seem to be the masters of designing floating homes — for obvious […]

  7. r. a. cunningham February 6, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    I enjoyed the History Channel program spotlighting this style of building. This is going to be a building type with unprecedented necessity in the next 10 years and beyond. As global warming and magnetic pole shifting becomes an increasing world threat, the overall sea levels will rise substantially. The entire world should start to adopt this radiacal building style, especially in the U.S. Take a minute to research the future predictions of Edgar Cayce and the various prohetic visions of the Mayan calender and ancient egyptians marking a global cataclysm in the year 2012. It is better to be safe than sorry!

  8. Bess Sun January 12, 2007 at 12:46 am

    It is amazing to see this house building !
    I have been to Holland before 3 years, but I never see any kind of this house building.
    I like it ! Maybe in the future, it will appears in Taiwan.

  9. Danielle November 17, 2006 at 7:07 am

    um, dan, these people have at least a masters in architecture. why don’t you give them the benefit of the doubt that they know what they’re doing?

    i’m sure they know exposed concrete will absorb the water and the salt in the concrete will gravitate towards the exterior of the concrete and it will soon crumble. i learned that from watching 5 minutes of “hgtv” here in new jersey. if a home inspector knew, i’m sure someone selling an entire house knows what they’ve designed…that’s why they get paid and you don’t.

    hande-free sewage? the sewage lines and gas and what not are in the base…probably like the floating homes in canada and california…and what would lead you to believe that such modern homes require out-houses or something? lol you should really do some research before you start typing away..cause you got pwned by a 19 year-old college student.

    ahem…19 year-old architecture student..

  10. Dan November 14, 2006 at 12:10 pm

    I’m going to be setting up a water home. I came from mainstream to the point where I’m now aware of how to do this properly.

    Concrete and foam is folly; the concrete will become home to a thousand barnicles eating their way through faster than you can say “umm… stable?”

    If you use polyethylene teraphthalates (plastic) floats, and use lighter building materials; your substructure/floating/floor thingy will come out to roughly 1/3 the cost. Look into floating docks.

    Also, the two biggest problems with a floating home are waves and hands-free sewage treatment. Location Location Location.

  11. michael taylor September 7, 2006 at 6:06 am

    how can a i get a tour of your floating city? and can guy from the united state but one of these house in holland? as i’m planning to retire in holland in seven years or sooner.

  12. frederick washington August 30, 2006 at 5:26 pm

    I have a piece of property subject to flooding and would like to know more about your “waterstudio’s amphibious houses” thank you for your expeidient response

  13. Inhabitat » Blog ... August 28, 2006 at 5:58 am

    […] As we approach the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, you may we’re running a little theme on Inhabitat: flood-resistant design and architecture. In the months following Katrina, one of the most interesting design solutions we found for dealing with rising water levels was the amphibious architecture of Dutch firm Waterstudio. […]

  14. Inhabitat » Blog ... August 26, 2006 at 5:31 am

    […] Recently, we are starting to see a lot of Dutch designers churning out products that will help you stay afloat in the coming water-world. We mentioned Waterstudio’s floating houses last year, and now we’ve discovered some floating chairs to go with it! PS Lab’s ChairBag is an inflatable bean-bag chair turned buoy. This water resistant addition to any home will provide a safe floating haven when the North Sea breaks through the dikes or the ground sinks out from under your feet. It also looks like a lot of fun for kids, even when high and dry. […]

  15. Inhabitat » Blog ... August 6, 2006 at 4:31 am

    […] Just wanted to let you all know that I am finally back from my trip to the Netherlands and Scandinavia, and I will have a lot to report in the coming weeks. I managed to interview Koen Olthius of, the Dutch architect who designs floating homes, and Joost Van Brug – the Dutch blogger behind fabulous design blog Reluct. I also toured the Droog studio and checked out the latest student work from Eindhoven, as well as catching up with Alver Aalto’s buildings in Helsinki, Steven Holl’s Kiasma Museum in Helsinki and Calatrava’s Turning Torso in Malmo. Good stuff will be coming your way soon! […]

  16. Inhabitat » Blog ... April 27, 2006 at 5:45 am

    […] With floods and hurricanes on the brain, we always take note of houses that can float if waters start rising…Flexibility in the face of disaster can be a saving grace. This Bucky-esque dwelling is shaped like a soccer (aka…FOOT)ball. […]

  17. DAVID A CORREDOR October 16, 2005 at 11:42 am


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