Besides making the typical mistake of saying that Holland is a country (Holland refers to two provinces, North Holland and South Holland where people do live under sea level), this is what the future might look like.
The inevitable rise in sea level that comes with climate change is going to make it increasingly difficult to control flooding in low-lying Holland. But instead of cursing their fate, architects are designing a new Holland that will float on water, and the Dutch government seems willing to try out the scheme. Holland has made other countries begin to question, too. Who says you have to live on dry land?
Chris Zevenbergen work at the Dura Vermeer firm. “The whole idea is, in our designs, we should always take into account what will happen when there’s an extreme event,” Zevenbergen says. In the past, the Dutch only built homes in places where dikes made flooding unlikely. “The concept that in fact you build in an area where a flood may occur is completely new,” Zevenbergen says.
At his office in The Hague, Koen Olthuis drums his fingers on his desk while he is fielding calls from people all over the world interested in water architecture. Olthuis is bursting with energy. He’s the co-founder of a firm called Waterstudio, a small office with a dozen or so youngish employees.
Olthuis’ projects go beyond the idea of simply keeping the house and its contents dry.
“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.