Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A rising ocean lifts all ... houses?

What do you do when the ocean levels rise, or the predictions say that there will be a flood once in 12 years?

Well, you can choose to migrate, or choose to change how you live, factoring the water in the picture.

No, I am not talking about waterworld. I am talking about the houses built over water by a dutch architect.
"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.

Talk about human resilience! But wait, there's more:
"The next step: we not only make the house floating, but we make the complete garden floating," Olthuis says.

Why not? Why lose all those pretty Dutch tulips just because it floods? After all, Olthuis says, building floating foundations is a snap. Just fill a concrete box with some kind of plastic foam, flip it over, and you've got a stable platform that's ready to float. And the more of these platforms you join together, the more stable they are. So Olthuis doesn't plan to stop at single family homes.

"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," he says.

We should really start making some of these in India soon.

1 comment:

  1. Cool concept!

    However, being a civil engineer I can't help wondering whether having foundations rest on the river bottom is a practical solution for Indian rivers (For example, Ganga has an average depth of more than 50 metres!)... In addition, even for house-boats in current use, disposing sewage and getting fresh water requires access to land. It will be interesting to see how further research in this area solves such issues.

    Finally, for anything to work in India, the 'jugaad' principle immortalized by the Tata Nano is imperative: Cost is the most important concern for the common man! :)