Cities built on water

Water management is becoming an increasingly important element of human safety and environmental sustainability. The UK and the Balkans recently suffered from severe floods, leading to worldwide concerns on rising sea levels. As many countries like South-Africa are surrounded by water, it is now more important than ever to ask how we can change the way we live to safeguard against future risks.

The Dutch have found many solutions to this question. Having a turbulent history of fighting back water, the Netherlands are still vulnerable to floods, even more now that the threats of climate change are becoming more serious. Living close to the water means living on land protected by dykes, on the shoreline or even floating on water itself. Indeed, the smart way to keep your feet dry is to actually live on water.

The past few years have seen an increase in the number of water-based housing developments in the Netherlands that look very much like those based on land. Their level of sophistication has grown as well, transforming from the iconic houseboats along city canals to full-fledged dwellings with the latest urban design.

One of the best examples of this is the Amsterdam Ijburg district. An area situated on the IJmeer Lake east of the city, it is made up of three man-made islands with home designed Architects Marlies Rohmer to help deal with Amsterdam’s housing shortage. Built in a modern architectural style, the homes in this neighbourhood are as beautiful to look at as their waterside views. In this way, the homes are built to accommodate a lifestyle on water, with access to water sports, sailing and bridges with easy access to the city centre.

As water levels increase worldwide, this new way of living not only fits with new environmental situations, but also answers density problem. As cities run out of living space and land for new buildings, solutions will have to be addressed. Instead of feeling the threat of water, water-houses allow us to embrace natural surroundings and meet the needs of urban citizens.

Discover more about Dutch innovation through design thinking on water management by visiting Department of Design, from the 8th until the 27th of July.

Posted in News.