Jill Fehrenbacher

WATERSTUDIO'S FLOOD-RESISTANT ARCHITECTURE

by , 08/28/06

Waterstudio, Waterstudio.nl, Koen Olthius, amphibious house, houseboat, floating house, flood resistant houses

As we approach the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, you may notice 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. Architect Koen Olthius specializes in a unique technology that allows land-based buildings to detach from the ground and float under rising water conditions. Olthius’ claim to fame is that he focuses exclusively on aqueous design – design for building in, on and at the water – in a country where water dominates the landscape.


Now Waterstudio has completed their first amphibious residential home and we’ve got some gorgeous photos to prove it. (See below)

Jill was also fortunate to meet and interview Koen in the Netherlands last month, and you can
read the interview here >

If you want to learn a little more about Waterstudio and flood-resistant architecture,
check out this fascinating video >

+ WATERSTUDIO

Core 77 also has a great article called Surviving the Flood which focuses on the water-proof design exhibited in this year’s Rotterdam Biennial.

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7 Comments

  1. rovingreporter May 13, 2010 at 1:40 am

    I’ve been thinking about the idea of flood resistant housing (I’m not an architect however) — one of my ideas is to use a globe shape, and use the bottom half to store slack utility cables and other “hard to hide” stuff that would be needed if the house floats up. Also, I thought it might be good to have pneumatic tubes around the periphery that would expand as water pushed the house up. Under normal circumstances, the tubes could provide more stability such as if there is a lot of wind. The only downside is that they would probably be quite visible if you design for really high floods such as over six feet…but they might be disguised as part of the house. I’ve also considered a donut design with a garden in the center. The garden would thus be sheltered from harsh elements. I find “normal” houses and apartments boring.

  2. AAsamoah November 5, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    People this is called Flood Resistant architecture not Hurricane Resistant there is a difference.

  3. Randi Doeker September 12, 2006 at 7:41 pm

    Therese is right: the design of the buildings will be fatal to hundreds of thousands of birds over the lifetime of the structure. Bird-safe design is just as sttractive as bird-killing design; it is just a matter of will.

    Birds are not a renewable resource. Extinction is forever.

  4. Chip September 5, 2006 at 9:45 pm

    I’d just like to point out that Hurricanes rarely bring slowly rising water (which this structure could easily handle.) The commonly bring large storm surges that tend to destroy rigid structures.

  5. sherry son September 1, 2006 at 3:41 am

    these are soooooo AWESOME!!!
    when i become an architect i am going to make cool stuff like that.
    that is AMAZING!!!

  6. Therese August 30, 2006 at 1:51 pm

    I found your website some months back and subscribe to the daily newsletter. I really enjoy it, particularly the innovations and wonderful thinking in new ways!

    I’m writing, however, about a problem I see with a lot of your featured building. All those beautiful, huge windows will kill birds, you know. I live in a house with just normal sized windows and every year we have a number of birds fly into the glass and some are killed outright, and others badly injured.

    Birds all over the world are under pressures that are reducing their abilities to live in the modern world. Surely people designing for a “better” way of building should consider the impact their designs will have on the other inhabitants of the planet.

  7. Laura August 29, 2006 at 1:16 pm

    Although floating houses are not new, they have a constant challenge for not becoming a hazard to the environment. Main problems are power and water waste & management, specially when they don’t move and become a real estate. When this happens, sometimes they have utilities (ducts) extended to their site and are a problem when managed inappropriately. Otherwise, they function like a boat. This is a problem in sensitive environments, like mangroves in the Caribbean.

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