Gallery: INHABITAT INTERVIEW: Waterstudio’s Koen Olthuis on FLOAT!

World-renowned architect Koen Olthuis is the leading designer of floating structures -- he has built a number of floating houses all over the world and has designed for the likes of Dubai and other metropolises. Koen Olthuis of Waterstudio and David Keuning of Mark Magazine have also authored a book, called FLOAT!, which is a compendium of his knowledge on floating architecture. He details historical projects, discusses the practical uses for floating architecture, explores scenarios for a future world with higher sea levels, and rallies behind sustainability as a necessity for future development on the water. In between his busy travel schedule, Koen was able to take some time to answer a few questions about the future of hydrocities and building on the water - read on for our exclusive interview!

Photocredits: Architect Koen Olthuis – Waterstudio.NL and Pieter Kers

FLOAT! is a beautiful volume that explores the world of floating architecture through historic, current, and future developments as well as the technologies behind them. Eye-catching images, bright neon typography and a well-written narrative all make this a book you will want to have in your collection. Think: Christmas present to yourself — or the architecture lover in your circle.

Q. What are some of the technologies or design features that make living on the water more sustainable, energy-efficient, and/or resource efficient?

A. Sustainability is good, sustainaquality is better! Sustainaquality is sustainability on water by using the unique qualities and conditions of aqua territory. Sustainaquality is the combination of sustainability – aqua- and quality. Cooling wind effects of water, enormous fluid mass with buffer temperature for water cooling, wave and tidal energy as well as floating solar fields.

Q. As sea levels rise, do you think we will realistically see billions people who live on the waterfront transitioning into housing that floats , rather than relocating away from the water line?

A. Urbanization will grow in the coming years and 90% of the metropolises are located near the water, so it is just logical that cities will find a way to live with the water instead of going away. Look at the Dutch — we are living below sea level for hundreds of years instead of leaving for higher Europe. Nobody wants to leave New York, Tokyo or London. We’d rather deal with the sea level rise by using the space in the cities on water.


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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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