The Republic of Kiribati, a small nation of islands and atolls in the central Pacific Ocean, is a tropical paradise that’s also believed to be at extreme risk of disappearing due to climate change. In response to a global design competition seeking climate-resilient solutions to housing for Kiribati citizens, French architect Christophe Caranchini has proposed prefabricated floating communities that promote off-grid, communal living. In addition to drawing energy from renewable sources, each modular unit would be optimized for energy efficiency and home gardening.

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aerial rendering of floating structures arranged in circles

Launched in October 2019, the Kiribati Floating Houses competition was hosted by the Young Architects Competition to generate ideas for a resilient Kiribati. Participants were challenged to create a new housing model that would not only adapt to rising ocean levels but would also honor the native culture and way of life. 

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aerial rendering of floating structures arranged in a circle
rendering of person watering plants in a garden

Christophe Caranchini’s submission, titled Kiribati 2.0, proposes a series of floating, prefabricated homes that would be arranged in a circle to promote a sense of community and to weather the forces of tropical storms. Inspired by the typology of existing houses in Kiribati, the modular units would be prefabricated from wood in a workshop and then transported by boat to Kiribati. The units would come in a variety of types for flexibility, from floating bases that accommodate either a deck, agriculture or housing to units that allow for public docking (with or without a ladder), private gardens and terraces or private beach access with a terrace. 

rendering of docked floating home at dusk
diagram of eco-friendly features of a floating home

The floating homes would span two floors, with the first level dedicated to daytime living and workspaces and the upper level reserved for the bedrooms. The roof would be used as a productive space for growing vegetables and collecting renewable energy via wind turbines and solar panels. Rainwater would also be collected from the roof. A filtering garden would treat wastewater onsite before it’s discharged into the sea. The Kiribati Floating Houses competition ended in January 2020 with the first prize awarded to Polish architect Marcin Kitala’s submission.

+ Christophe Caranchini

Images via Christophe Caranchini