Thursday, February 14, 2008

Rising above the Sea Level

A home building company, called Waterstudio in the Netherlands has come up with a next generation of flood-proof and rising sea-level adaptable houses. The houses, primary made from concrete and foam, are still in concept stage. They have airtight foundations (for obvious reasons!) with a bob-upwards hovering floor to adjust to changing sea levels. The concept of floating infrastructures is not new and in fact the Japanese and others have been exploring for decades the concept of floating cities (see OceanAtlas). In an interview with Inhabitat, Mr Koen Olthuis of Waterstudio is calling for humans to let the water in and make friends with the water. This approach, of course, is a complete departure from the efforts of the Dutch authorities to use all means possible to 'keep the water out'. However, with escalating costs of protecting coastal investments from the sea, we should increasingly look at designs that are 'friendly' to the sea and adaptable to events such as storms, sea level rise and flooding. These concept homes are so adaptable that they have tubular support and flexible utility provisions that when the flood levels rise the house rises and settles back down on terra firma. Some are also equipped with floatable car ports and berths for small vessels, so a trip to the cinema is secured.

In small islands and indeed elsewhere we have consistently adopted hard and heavy approaches to construction without consideration of a constantly changing planet, albeit this time driven by human forces. In Seychelles, we have a tradition of building houses on pillars and in many parts of Asia millions of homes are still built on stilts, but this has largely been ignored by the construction industry in the last 30 years. With resorts and expensive coastal properties springing up along the coast, it is no surprise that today the cost of adaptation to sea level rise runs into the trillions of dollars. With sea level rise looming, many coastal communities may need to resort to such radical approaches to design in order to survive into the next century.

Watch how these houses will work in practice on this Discovery Channel video. For photos see the Luxurylaunches website. Book yours now!