Floating Houses

With the sea level rising as a result of global warming, the low-lying Netherlands is fighting back for more space by building communities on water.

Ever thought of buying a house you could move with you?
Recognising the growing scarcity of building ground in the Netherlands, a Dutch construction company has started building houses on water. The houses, made of wood and lightweight aluminium, are linked to each other by walkways but can be detached from the surrounding neighbourhood and individually moved by tugboats.

For centuries the Netherlands has fought against invading water with land fills, dams and dykes. But the philosophy is changing in the wake of global warming, blamed for the 20 cm-rise in sea-level over the last century. Instead of driving out the water, the Dutch is trying to live on it. And since we are getting more and more rain, we are having more and more water in this country which is fifty percent below the sea level as you know, and so we have developed this concept of building villages on the water, Ooms Bouwmaatschappijs marketing director, Gijsbert van der Woerdt told Reuters.


The company Ooms Bouwmaatschappij has built the first eight of the planned 500 floating houses on the outskirts of Amsterdam, capital of the worlds third most densely populated country. The houses are designed to withstand gales and can be located up to 100 metres from the shore.



Spoken comments: 
Gijsbert van der Woerdt

Interest in the novel mode of living, a natural progression from the ubiquitous houseboats, has been keen. There are about 5,000 names on the waiting list for the accomodation that sells for between $180,000 and $500,000.
Doctor Dorien Vluchter and her husband Ari Mashiach took a day off to visit the floating estate with their child.

"I have never thought about the possibility and it just appears to me very interesting

 that something is floating on the water. And the freedom, maybe eventually we can take the house some place else. I think that is more interesting than moving, now you just move your whole house", Vluchter said. Her husband was more sceptical.
"I can imagine that the water is kind of calming, something very quiet and nice to look at. On the other side, I think, well it is just water, so I cannot open open the door and play in the garden with my daughter, so I don't know", Mashiach said.

Spoken comments: 
Dorien Vluchter

Spoken comments:
Ari Mashiach

Spoken comments: Frits Schoute
A Dutch academic is taking this idea further and has been searching for ways to colonise the sea. Frits Schoute, a former professor at Delft University, is working on a stabilising platform that allows communities to live in the middle of oceans, unaffected by waves.
"We are working on solutions for stabilising a platform and making some kind of barrier around it, such that it is ultimately comfortable to live on the sea", Schoute said.
Schoute expects people to start living and working on these full-scale platforms by 2020, with floating cities being established in 2050. The world will be a very different place.

IJBURG, Netherlands, June 3 (Reuters) - Ever thought of buying a house you could move with you?

One Dutch construction company, recognising the the growing scarcity of building ground in the Netherlands, has started to build houses on water.
Ooms Bouwmaatschappij has built the first eight of 500 planned floating houses on the outskirts of Amsterdam - the capital of the world's third most densely populated country.
the houses, which are designed to withstand gales, are built on floating platforms, allowing owners with itchy feet to drift off to the sunset, their homes in tow.
"We thought the market was right for it. Building ground is very scarce in Holland and since 30 percent of it is water, it was very logical to think of what other possibilities there are", Ooms Bouwmaatschappij's marketing director, Gijsbert van der Woerdt told Reuters.
For centuries planning in this low-lying country has focused on separating and maintaining the division between land and water. Precious land has been reclaimed from the sea by building dams and heightening dikes.
But the tide of thinking has turned and in the quest to find fresh building ground in the Netherlands, where two-thirds of the population lives below sea-level, Dutch planners are looking to the country's most abundant resource -- water.
"We've always fought the water but the philosophy has changed: it's not our enemy, we're not going to fight it, we're going to use it," van der Woerdt said.

WORRYING SIGNS OF GLOBAL WARMING

Alarm bells in the Netherlands started ringing in the last decade which witnessed worrying signs of global warming -- rising waters coupled with several unusually dry summers.
The sea level rose by 20 centimeters (eight inches) in the last century and is expected to rise by three times that amount in the 21st century.
In a policy paper, the Transport, Public Works and Water Management Ministry warned that a radical shake-up was needed in the way the Netherlands has traditionally kept the sea at bay.
"We will have to relinquish space to water, and not win space from it, in order to curb the growing risk of disaster due to flooding, limited water-related problems and be able to store water for expected periods of drought."
"Only by relinquishing space can we set things right and if this is not done in a timely manner, water will sooner or later reclaim the space in its own, perhaps dramatic, manner."
One Dutch academic thinks that floating houses will not just be a fashionable lifestyle but a necessity in the coming years.
Frits Schoute, a former professor at Delft University, is working on a stabilising platform that would permit communities to live in the middle of oceans, unaffected by waves.
"My argument is this place is densely populated," said Schoute, pointing to a map of the Netherlands. "Here the density is zero," he said pointing to the sea beyond the Dutch coastline. "So you would think there is pressure to colonise this space."
He expects colonisation by these floating cities to take place in the next 20 years.
"It's an easy place to get energy, to produce drinking water and find new food sources -- al those factors combined will make it very attractive for the world population and ultimately a necessity to live on the sea," he told Reuters.

INTEREST KEEN IN FLOATING HOUSES

In the meantime interest in this novel mode of living, a natural progression from the Netherlands' ubiquitous houseboats, has been keen with about 5,000 names already on the waiting list.
"They are looking for a more natural surrounding than an apartment on the ninth floor in the city," van der Woerdt said of potential floating house buyers.
The houses, retailing between $180,000 and $500,000, will be located up to 100 metres (330 feet) away from the sea shore. Made of wood and lightweight aluminium, they will be linked to each other by walkways.
They will be arranged initially in clusters but they will be able to be detached from the surrounding neighbourhood and moved individually by tugboat to new waters.
"What's interesting is you can move your house. It's nice because it's free, it's not attached to to anything," said Dorien Vluchter, family doctor and mother of two, inspecting the show houses.
However, her husband was less impressed.
"I can imagine that the water is kind of calming, something very quiet and nice to look at. On the other side, I think, well it is just water, so I cannot open the door and play in the garden with my daughter."


And, what else was on TV?