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INHABITAT INTERVIEW: Koen Olthuis of WaterStudio.nl Talks About Design for a Water World
Jill: Some of your houses are floating, some of them are raised and some of them are amphibious. Can you explain the difference? I mean, I see houseboats all over Amsterdam – how are your buildings different from houseboats?
Koen:: Well there’s 60,000 houseboats in Amsterdam, but all of those have dimensions of five to six meters by 20 to 25. We’re doing something completely different, which allows the buildings to get much bigger and be a lot more stable. We have a patented technology to create special “floating foundations” with foam and concrete – what we call floating land. These foundations move up and down on piles. This allows us to go up to 200 – 200 meters in dimension and create larger structures. We use the term amphibious to describe these floating foundations that rest on piles. The foundation is set on dry land, and when the water comes, the foundation comes loose from those piles and floats upward, and become a floating house.
Jill: How did you get started in this business in the first place?
Koen:: We did a few designs for Amsterdam on the water, and I loved it. That’s what got me hooked. And I think, well, this is the choice I have to make. The first years were very hard, and now it’s getting easier.
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