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Floating homes are being developed to cope with rising sea levels

Climate change threatens us with rising sea levels and if things continue on the current trajectory, our need to consider alternative living becomes more pressing.

Boat dwelling might become a necessary alternative to traditional land-based living in some parts of the world, perhaps even a necessity for our survival if as predicted much of our habitable land could be underwater in the not-too-distant future.

Maybe floating homes is an idea that can ride the rising tide of climate change

Kirsty Hammond Kirsty Hammond Publisher and editor of Specifier Review

Floating houses

Many architects globally are attempting to tackle both our exploding population and the pressures that ensue, in conjunction with the climate catastrophe that we are beginning to witness throughout the world.

Flood resistant designs are a viable option, traditional floating villages are already in existence in parts of southeast Asia. However, combining floating homes into our bursting existing cities may be a greater challenge.

Marlies Rohmer, Amsterdam, has designed a collection of floating houses which are built upon 6 artificial islands, situated in IJ Lake.

The idea was conceived to address the critical housing shortage seen all over the world as well as the vulnerability to flooding, over half the Netherlands lies below or at sea level.

If building on water was prioritised, the rising sea levels and frequent storms could offer a flood defence and allow communities to withstand climate change.

More than just a houseboat

A floating home can be constructed along any shoreline and could cope with rising sea levels or floods by simply rising with the surface.

Floating homes differ from house boats and canal boats. They are fixed abodes, resting on steel poles, structurally similar to homes built on land but have a concrete hull that acts cleverly as a counterweight.

Often prefabricated in line with construction for a sustainable future, they are constructed off site from currently conventional materials.

Floating homes are relatively low-tech and sustainable. Amsterdam currently has 3,000 registered traditional house boats and hundreds more are moving into floating homes in otherwise under used areas.

A shortage of higher ground

If we consider that hundreds of millions of people will later in this century be displaced by the rising sea levels, then we need to begin to increase the scale of such architecture.

Currently it is expected that many people and homes will move to higher ground, but what happens when this isn’t possible, or overcrowding prevents such a move.

Exploring the possibility of expanding into the water could be vital. Billions of dollars can be saved, as well as lives.

Engineers all over the globe are considering this proposal, architects searching for solutions see a real potential, the possibility of easing the housing problem is exciting and, in many countries, now even a reality.

In Copenhagen, architectural firm ‘Urban Rigger’ has launched, literally floating student homes recycled from shipping containers.

Each one has 12 studio apartments and a courtyard; it is powered in part by solar energy and has a kayak landing!

It seems that floating homes will play a part in the housing puzzle of the future, perhaps not a full solution but maybe an idea that can ride the rising tide of climate change.

Kirsty Hammond is publisher and editor of Specifier Review