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  • Writer's pictureAndrés Felipe Perez


6 Different Developments.

Written by: Andrés Felipe Pérez.

Edited by: Nathalie Mezza-Garcia.

Throughout history, humans have adapted to the place where they decided to build their homes. Different populations have found diverse solutions to the geographical and climatic conditions where they made their settlements. Although the vast majority of populations found solid land to erect their buildings, others decided to settle near water bodies and even on top of them. Strategic reasons for trade or to obtain food were behind these decisions. The houses of some populations were not built on land or water exclusively but on both. Many have faced the variability that bodies of water entail and this justifies the emergence of different construction methods. There are 4 main methods for populations on water: stilt houses, reclaimed land, floating, and amphibious.

1. Stilts

The stilt house construction emerges as a solution to the rise in water level in construction in flooded areas. This construction method consists of raising platforms above water using stilts often made of wood which is often collected from local trees. This has been the most common method of construction on water bodies throughout history. In fact, the stilt houses somehow resemble the traditional construction methods used on dry land for deep foundations. Palafitic construction has been carried out in different regions of the world. These communities are usually located near the mainland and generally in calm waters. In general, this construction method is carried out in rural populations with low economic resources. The lack of sewerage and access to public services represents one of the greatest problems for these houses.

2. Reclaimed Land

Reclaiming land is a method that consists of turning an area covered in water into solid land. This method was firstly used in 1612 in the Netherlands where 70 square kilometers of non-existent land appeared in the Beemster region. This happened because a portion of the water from a lake was drained, creating land that could be used for agriculture. However, this is not the only method used to gain land.

There is also the filling method which consists of adding soil, sediments, sand, corals, and other elements that give firmness when accumulated. In this way, artificial islands are created. The gained lands arise as a solution to increase the land borders of certain territories and in some cases, they arise as a solution to populate territories that are below sea level. This is partly the case in the Netherlands, where many of their territories have had to use similar methods and drainage to make their land suitable for living.

3. Floating

Floating buildings are constructions that remain afloat on a water body. The way these buildings work is through the physical concept of buoyancy. The platforms can be made of different types of materials, from concrete, metals, to wood, and inside they can have air, concrete, and even Styrofoam. Concrete is often used to provide rigidity and thus be able to erect structures from these solid foundations.

Floating constructions are preventive measures with an eye to the future. By understanding that the future of cities and urban growth is not sustainable in the way it is being carried out, the opportunity to explore new territories to inhabit is provided. We are currently facing a population growth which brings with it a greater consumption of urban space where sometimes it's nonexistent and as a consequence of this there's a rise in prices. This plus the effects of climate change, the melting of the poles, and the impact that this has on the increase of the sea level, make floating constructions an attractive alternative for coastal cities. The prediction for 2050 is sea levels rising from 24 to 32 centimeters and this would cause great damage to all the coasts of the planet. Taking into account that most of the world's major urban centers are located on the coasts or near the river plains and that 50% of the world's population lives within a distance of 100 km from the coast, the growth of the level of the sea would entail gigantic consequences.

Floating buildings then arise as a need to broaden creative horizons in the world of construction, new developments, and urban planning. However, despite having a futuristic approach and being a niche for technological developments, its history dates back to the past when floating islands were built with natural and indigenous materials where society was established. This is the case of the Uros, a population located in the Bay of Puno on Lake Titicaca. Built from Totora, an aquatic plant that grows on the surface of the lake, the islands are formed to provide a stable surface to build their homes.

Multiple designs for housing, neighborhoods, and floating buildings are currently being developed and under development. The most recent ones are mainly interested in including solutions with renewable energies that can provide integral urban development. An example of this is the floating city for 20,000 people in the Maldives by Waterstudio.

4. Amphibious

Hand in hand with floating architecture projects are those focused on designing a type of amphibious structure; that is, constructions that adapt to flood conditions but also to firm ground. This method finds its niche in regions of the world near water bodies that have large ups and downs depending on weather conditions. In countries such as the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, projects of this type have been developed due to the geographical conditions that exist where water is a fundamental element to take into account when building.

5. Offshore Platforms

When analyzing the different existing methods to explore the construction and habitability of the ocean, we must take into account the extraction platforms located on the ocean. There are different types of platforms: Firstly, there are fixed platforms that rest on the seabed. This type of platform is used when the depth is approximately 70 meters. Second, for depths of approximately 100 meters, there are jack-up platforms that are designed to raise their structure from the seafloor and be able to change location. For depths of 450 to 900 meters, there are tie-rod and semi-submersible platforms.

6. SPAR Platforms

This is a model used for oil extraction at depths between 600 and 3,000 meters since building foundations for these depths is very expensive. This model has not only been implemented in oil platforms but also in floating housing projects such as the SeaPods of the Ocean Builders group.

It works based on the principle of leaving a cylinder proportional in size to the surface below the structure where the center of buoyancy is well above the center of gravity, thus achieving very stable floating surfaces.

And those are the 6 main types of floating structures, brought to you by Seaphia!

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