INHABITAT INTERVIEW: Waterstudio’s Koen Olthuis on FLOAT!

by , 06/12/13

FLOAT, koen olthuis, waterstudio, floating architecture, floating houses, sustainable architecturePhotocredits: Architect Koen Olthuis – Waterstudio.NL and Dutch Docklands

Q. Do you think entire cities could be built as floating habitats — or even entire countries like the Maldives? What are the current limitations of such an endeavor in terms of economics, public opinion/education or technology?

A. Technically, entire cities could be built on water, but now, the necessity and perception is not there. First, you will see an ideal combination of hydrocity with land-based and water-based developments with wet and dry infrastructure. Neither technology nor economics — but perception of the politics is the key in the evolution of a dry city to a hydrocity. For normal people living in a hydrocity it would be a better city that is adaptable to changing needs.

Q. How do you imagine that city/country? A series of floating platforms with canals as streets?

A. A city on water will not look so different from a normal city as we are used to today. The foundation will be floating on a combination of large mega floats, but on the platforms itself you will find normal structures as housing, offices, parks, roads etc. The extra advantage of a floating city are the city apps. Floating functions can easily be added to the city by placing them on the water. A floating sport stadium, a floating golf course, floating housing units, roads etc. So with these city apps you could easily adapt the city to its changing needs. Planning for change is what it’s all about.

Q.How does urban planning differ for floating cities compared to land based ones?

A. Urban planning on water brings urban planning in another dimension. For the last hundred years urban planners have tried to build more densely to provide for more prosperity along with the cost-effective infrastructure of heath care, education, transportation etc. Growing vertically with skyscrapers and underground structures has been the norm. Now, using the water in the city partly for building and additional functions creates new opportunities for new density and flexibility.

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  1. Tim Troxler February 18, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    This kind of thing appeals to me on many levels. Another nice benefit is that a neighborhood doesn not have to be subject to many months of noise, truck traffic and construction dust from new building construction. All that takes place far away and then the building is floated into place. But it would be a difficult sell for New York, where open water is fiercely protected by state DEPs. The understanding is that shading reduces the quality of aquatic habitat. But the US does have examples of huge floating buildings. I’ve seen the giant casinos along the Mississippi. They are built to float in man-made lagoons so that they are technically not on land, but in the river, and thus subject to different laws.

  2. Andrew Woodhouse September 29, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    I M P O R T A N T

    I need the email address of Koen Olthuis, WATER STUDIO NL as soon as possible please for a major design project for Sydney Harbour, Australia, cruise ship terminal.

    Thank you
    Andrew Woodhouse,
    Potts Point and Kings Cross Heritage Conservation Society

    30th Septemebr, 2011
    Ph 0011 66 415 949 506

  3. Diane Fischer June 21, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    I saw it today at William Stout Architectural Books shop on Mission Street in San Francisco.

  4. AllForTheGreen April 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    It should not be this hard to find a book.. anyone know where I can pick this up?

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