Exploring new avenues is a continual journey for most architects and combining climate change into new design continues to bring new challenges.

One of the key factors that preoccupies most of us in the UK is weather …we continually discuss it and more importantly the rain, which seems to dominate our conversations and reinforces how miserable we feel about it.  Looking more closely at the effects of climate change however, will bring this topic up more regularly, particularly as we are now facing serious issues about rising sea levels.

We are in the season for floods, although we are used to much wetter conditions all round these days whatever the season.  Severe storms seem far more powerful and they bring far more risk of damage to property, with flooding becoming a frequent and alarming issue to resolve.  So it begs the question of what solutions are possible and how will our cities cope with rising tides?

In relation to design, there are some architects that are looking to develop new solutions with novel concepts in the form of floating buildings.  Ideas range from simple homes to completely amphibious districts.

The Netherlands is leading the way in relation to pioneering designs with water based living already a concept that has been developed.  With over half its landmass under water the canals are synonymous with the country, but the Dutch are taking enterprising steps when it comes to transforming cities that are likely to flood.

A new type of modern housing solution has become increasingly popular in Amsterdam in the form of houseboats. Contemporary styles are being enjoyed by forward thinking individuals who are looking to alternative solutions.

The Danish firm BIG and Barcode Architects have taken this a step further by revealing designs for a huge housing complex that will float on the IJ Lake.  This comes in the form of a 46,000 sq mt building that is intended to act as a gateway to IJburg – a complete district that is located on artificial islands.

This concept is nothing new to BIG which has promoted floating architecture in Copenhagen, where a student housing project made from shipping containers sits in the harbour; and it is intended to show how floating property can be built with a very small budget.

The idea of a floating home has also appealed to some architects who see the simplicity in its development for those who like to travel.  Owners can weigh anchor and head off to the far reaches of stunning locations, which really does give a new meaning to the term ‘mobile home’.

For those hit by floods, the idea of embracing a water-based lifestyle may be the furthest thing from their mind.  On a grander scale however, this could have excellent potential as a housing solution.

Helen Duval 2018