Living With Water Extremes: A Juxtaposition Of Design Responses


Many people live with the daily fear of not having enough water. Take Atlanta, Georgia USA, for example. Atlanta is an inverse Atlantis. Until recently, Atlanta was legendary for rapid growth without limits. Its citizens ever willing to live with the misery of traffic jams, the Atlanta area now faces the prospect of economic decline for lack of water, as well as overcrowded highways.

The drought-adaptive measures talked about most in Atlanta area seem superficial by comparison to what's happening in Holland, where the threat of climate change-amplified floods have inspired a community scale design change.A Netherlands-based architecture firm, with government support, are designing and building communities with homes that float (as pictured above). These are not really houseboats parked in suburban-like rows (although the basement is water proof and boat-like, and the whole affair could be made to float to a new setting).

Steel pillars keep the flood-adaptive buildings horizontally stable during the presence of floodwaters. But, rather like the float inside a modern toilet tank, the homes move freely, up and down. See early TreeHugger coverage of this design approach: "Floating Eco-Homes In The Netherlands"


Obviously this is not a solution for buildings more than one or two stories high; but for a rural or what in the US would be called an "ex-urban" development, it is fine. Might make more sense than a government buyout and relocation such as the the US Army Corps of Engineers most unimaginatively favors.

The inevitable rise in sea level that comes with climate change is going to make it increasingly difficult to control flooding in low-lying Holland. But instead of cursing their fate, architects are designing a new Holland that will float on water, and the Dutch government seems willing to try out the scheme. Holland has made other countries begin to question, too. Who says you have to live on dry land?...

"The whole idea is, in our designs, we should always take into account what will happen when there's an extreme event," Zevenbergen says. In the past, the Dutch only built homes in places where dikes made flooding unlikely...

"The next step: we not only make the house floating, but we make the complete garden floating," Olthuis says.

For the emergency readiness kit, the residents might want to add a few fishing rods.

Meanwhile over in Texas USA, local elected officials seem to have gotten the "think ahead" message about water resources and growth. Take this example.

The Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District has notified water suppliers that they must reduce their use of the county aquifer system by 30 percent by 2015, with a concern for anticipated growth in their areas through 2045 and preliminary plans for an alternative water source.

See also: On the Stands: Innovative Home Fall 2007 AND Villa N├Ąckros: Swedish Floating Prefabs

Via::NPR, All Things Considered, "Dutch Architects Plan for a Floating Future" Image credits::NPR, Maasbommel Houses AND WaterSecretsBlog, "Texas County Seeking Drinking Water Sources for Future Growth"

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