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Dutch Prepare for Climate Change With Floating Houses

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With rising sea levels and more extreme weather events on the horizon, the Dutch are building houses modeled after arks. These houses become buoyant during floods.

There is a string of 37 houses located along the Maas River in Holland that were designed and built by Dura Vermeer. Such houses can rise 16 feet without problems and contain flexible pipes, electrical, and sewer lines.

The foundation of the sits on the river bottom. If you were to drill a hole through the basement floor, water would come in (so this is not recommended).

When the river floods, the house becomes buoyant. Unlike a boat or an ark, two broad steel posts driven deep into solid ground hold the house in place.

“In the other village we have lived, there was always the water,” said Mariana Smits, a floating homeowner in Maasbommel. “I was very scared. Two times, we have evacuated to leave our old house. This was very scary for us. And we got the opportunity to buy this house. It’s a safe place.”

Design Advances

Floating houses are nothing new, but they are in higher demand and increasingly popular. Buoyant gardens are also being designed, because nobody wants to loose their daisy collection after an extreme weather event. Technology is now being developed to allow entire city blocks to float. Having multiple structures connected adds stability, benefiting everyone.

Rising Sea Level Increasing Demand

Some degree of climate change is inevitable despite emission reduction efforts and adaptation initiatives are being considered. “As global warming causes the sea level to rise, this is the solution,” explains Dick van Gooswilligen from the Dura Vermeer. “Housing of this type is the future for the delta regions of the world, the ones which face the greatest danger.”

Market conditions are ripe for this building design. “The momentum is just right,” said Koen Olthuis of Waterstudio, an architectural firm that specializes in living and working on water. “Because of the climate change, because of the Al Gore story, because of New Orleans, because of the financials of this moment, everybody is waiting for new innovations.”

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Photo Credit: Dura Vermeer

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Written By

is passionate about the new green economy and renewable energy. Sarah's experience includes work with small-scale solar energy installations and utility-scale wind farms. She earned an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School and is a co-founder of Trees Across the Miles, an urban reforestation initiative. When she can escape the internet vortex, she enjoys playing in the forest, paddling down rivers, or twisting into yoga poses.


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