Holland Now Built To Float

In his 1985 novel Freezone, John Shirley wrote about a city that floated free on the surface of the ocean:

Originally, Freezone had been just another offshore drilling project...

A Texas entrepreneur ... saw the possibilities in the community that had grown up around the enormous complex of offshore drilling platforms...

The Texan owned a plastics company [which] developed a light, super-tough plastic that the entrepreneur used in the rafts on which the new floating city was built. The community was now seventeen square miles of urban raft...
(Read more about John Shirley's Freezone)

Dutch architects are preparing for the rise of the seas by designing a new Holland that will float on water. The design work takes a variety of forms.

One possibility is the "amphibious house" which is tethered to a special foundation that will permit the house to float freely when the river floods. Let's take a tour with the owner.


(Floating "amphibious house" in Maasbommel)

I ask her if I can see her home's foundation. Luckily, she's happy to oblige. She leads us downstairs.

"This is underwater," she says when we get there. We are in an enclosed basement with a low ceiling, and the Maas River is all around us. I mean, you poke a hole, and you're going to have water come in.

You see, Smits' foundation actually sits on the river bottom. If the river level rises to flood stage, the house and the foundation float up with the water level. Flexible pipes keep the house connected to electrical and sewer lines.

Designer Koen Olthuis' projects go beyond the idea of simply keeping the house and its contents dry. "The next step: we not only make the house floating, but we make the complete garden floating," Olthuis says. "You see a floating foundation, with a garden on top of it, a swimming pool on top of it, and a house on top of it. And you can fix those floating gardens to each other, and make a floating village of it."

As global temperatures rise with climate change, there will be many more countries interested in the technology being tested now in Holland.

The Dutch might also be able to learn from this story about Maya Hotel Floating Pyramid Island In Caribbean Sea.

From NPR via io9.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/5/2008)

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