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Floating Houses Designed For Low-Lying Countries 173

Posted by samzenpus
from the down-the-river dept.
Zothecula writes "Venice may soon be sharing its 'Floating City' moniker thanks to a research project developing 'amphibian houses' that are designed to float in the event of a flood. The FLOATEC project sees the primary market for the houses as the Netherlands, whose low-lying land makes it particularly susceptible to the effects of rising sea levels. Such housing technology could also allow small island-states in the Indian and Pacific Oceans that are at the risk of disappearing in the next 100 years to maintain their claim to statehood through the use of artificial, floating structures."
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Floating Houses Designed For Low-Lying Countries

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  • uh-oh (Score:5, Funny)

    by RenHoek (101570) on Sunday September 04, 2011 @10:41PM (#37305746) Homepage

    Floating houses for low-lying countries?!?

    Do they know something I don't?

    Signed,

        Suspicious, from the Netherlands

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by nospam007 (722110) *

      'Floating houses' get 30 million Google hits so either this idea has been very successful in a very short time or it's very old news.
      What could it be....

      • by Baloroth (2370816)
        A boat?
      • by grouchomarxist (127479) on Monday September 05, 2011 @12:16AM (#37306172)

        Note that the specific phrase "floating houses" gets less than 300,000 hits.

      • Re:uh-oh (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Monday September 05, 2011 @01:35AM (#37306388)

        sarah palin worships atan and eats babies also get over two thousand results, and Google prompts you with the question, "do you mean sarah palin worships satan and eats babies?" The search results do not mean what you think they mean.

      • Or, the 'floating houses' of TFA aren't the sole usage of that term. Which, unsurprisingly, is what I find when I actually take the time to look at the actual results rather than just the numbers.

        When I search on 'floating houses', the first ten pages of images are almost totally either conventional houseboats, or the newer style which are (more or less) actually conventional houses built on barges. The same is true of the links - some are the houses that are the topic of TFA, but overwhelmingly they are

    • Floating houses are old hat... Being from Seattle, WA I hear that damned "so do you live in a houseboat like that movie, Sleepless in Seattle" all the time. And for the record, I don't - there's really no flat land in Seattle, it's all hills with lakes and rivers.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This is the case all along the Pacific really. The Pacific coast is all mountains except for cities built in river delta's (eg Vancouver/Richmond BC, Seattle/Tacoma WA, San Francisco CA, Tokyo Japan), which if it weren't for the fact that these large cities aren't going to float a condo building, aren't the target of the article.

        Rather the target is landfilled areas (which all named above cities have) with a cheaper alternative to pilings that go into bedrock. It might be possible to float a 3-story house (

    • Re:uh-oh (Score:4, Informative)

      by wvmarle (1070040) on Sunday September 04, 2011 @11:39PM (#37306040)

      It's indeed nothing new. The Netherlands has them for decades already. The only somewhat-new part here is that these houses are amphibian (i.e. floating only when there is a flood, most of the time sitting on dry ground), and even that's something I've heard about for well a decade or so at least. And yes that's also related to Dutch houses.

      Indeed reading TFA it's a Dutch company (Dura Vermeer) that's been developing such homes for the past 12 years. Nothing new under the sun. Also it seems no spectacular new developments in the field recently, there is ongoing innovation of course but it doesn't seem to be game-changing.

      Oh well. It's good filler for the /. home page at least.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Floating houses...

      In my country, we call these contraptions "boats".

    • by lxs (131946)

      If you don't know that we're sinking my fellow Dutchman, then you have been living under a rock.
      However with the population density we have here in the Netherlands, free standing houses are a massive waste of space, and I don't see tower blocks floating any day soon.

      • by rve (4436)

        The awesome power of natural selection will inevitably take care of a land dwelling and air breathing tribe that chooses to live below sea level.

        • by mcvos (645701)

          The awesome power of economics will take care of those who don't. Flood plains and polders tend to be very fertile, and rivers tend to be important trade arteries.

          • by jp102235 (923963)
            exactly, people complain about new orleans, but manhattan is just as vulnerable to sea level rise/surge/flood. of course, they have the advantage of building very tall 'houses'.
            • by swalve (1980968)
              New Orleans is a sinking bowl, Manhattan is a rocky mound. When New Orleans floods, you have to pump the water out. When Manhattan floods, it washes back out to the rivers.
              • by jp102235 (923963)
                ok, that's one.
                what about all those Millions of people in other sinking bowls ( sacramento river valley [wikipedia.org]).
                New Orleans is not unique, and you can't blame people who live there for being in the path of disaster.
                besides, the old city [pbs.org] of new orleans is above sea level, its the 'burbs that get flooded (definition of 'burbs in new orleans can get sticky though, but basically, any neighborhoods that existed a loooong time ago are well-tested with flood history)
                there are many places [1] [geology.com] [2] [wikipedia.org] in the world below
          • by rve (4436)

            The awesome power of economics will take care of those who don't. Flood plains and polders tend to be very fertile, and rivers tend to be important trade arteries.

            If water were the one thing that makes land fertile, you'd be all set. However, crops also need sunlight and warmth, of which you have so little that only grass and potatoes seem willing to grow without the help of greenhouses and grow lights.

            • by mcvos (645701)

              Are you trying to say that Netherland is somehow not that fertile? That this tiny country is not one of the largest agricultural exporters in the world? And it's not just milk, cheese and potatoes. A large part of it is actually flowers (growing outside, on the fields) and a wide range of other agricultural products. It's true that this summer was a bit too wet (which isn't all that good for potatoes, actually), but mostly we get a pretty nice mix of sun and rain, which is what farmers need. A climate with

      • by mcvos (645701)

        However with the population density we have here in the Netherlands, free standing houses are a massive waste of space, and I don't see tower blocks floating any day soon.

        I've worked in a floating office. Not a huge office building, but much bigger than a single house.

  • Really? What does "Claim to Statehood" actually mean to you when your house is now floating in the middle of Nowhere, Pacific Ocean. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the commute to work just got more entertaining...
    • by artor3 (1344997)

      You just need a floating post office that companies can locate their HQ in as a tax dodge. Of course, they'll first need to pay the necessary fees...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...Considering that you can go out and buy a houseboat in Seattle or many other places, I wonder how anyone ever thought to make houses that float. Genius, I say!

  • From a communique by some island's Ministry of international affairs.

    We and all other nations in the world do not recognize the occupation and annexation of our land by the Pacific ocean as legal. We shall maintain out statehood and membership to the UN even though evicted from our land onto a floating reservation. Even though this may last for several millenia, we consider the current situation as temporary only

  • landfill (Score:2, Interesting)

    I think those disappearing islands would be better off digging up the top layer of dirt and raising their island with imported garbage, then cover with top soil and plants. I would think you only need 2 meters to keep their island homes above water, and the first world nations would likely cover the full cost just to be rid of the junk. Having a floating home won't do any good without a job to pay for it, you may as well move to somewhere dry.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      old problem: rising sea levels

      new problem: cancer

    • Re:landfill (Score:4, Informative)

      by h5inz (1284916) on Monday September 05, 2011 @02:04AM (#37306472)
      What junk? Typical landfill junk decomposition produces dioxins. There is a reason why you don't want your house on a graveyard or a landfill. Also what about the drinking water? I bet the surrounding sea ecosystem wouldn't be overly happy about it either.
    • I think those disappearing islands would be better off digging up the top layer of dirt and raising their island with imported garbage, then cover with top soil and plants. I would think you only need 2 meters to keep their island homes above water, and the first world nations would likely cover the full cost just to be rid of the junk. Having a floating home won't do any good without a job to pay for it, you may as well move to somewhere dry.

      The applicable international law(s) require that your land must be "naturally" above sea level. Once you fuck with a piece of land you cannot use it in your claims.

  • Such housing technology could also allow small island-states in the Indian and Pacific Oceans

    What's next? "Floating rainwater basins", "floating desalination plants" or "regular shipment of bottled water"? "Floating coconut farms" maybe?

    • Re:Hmmm.. yeah... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ColdWetDog (752185) on Sunday September 04, 2011 @11:32PM (#37306000) Homepage

      Such housing technology could also allow small island-states in the Indian and Pacific Oceans

      What's next? "Floating rainwater basins", "floating desalination plants" or "regular shipment of bottled water"?
      "Floating coconut farms" maybe?

      These guys are just out there. You're going to float a house on Styrofoam in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? Maybe they've been fooled by the name (Pacific - Peaceful) but one little baby typhoon is going to put your Styrofoam and assorted crap in the middle of the Pacific garbage patch [wikipedia.org]. If you want to create floating cities, then go ahead and do so. The tech is there, it's just expensive.

      This might work in a low lying area that gets flooded every couple of years (although the stilt idea previously mentioned seems easier) but it's not going to float well. Somebody needs to torpedo this concept before anyone gets wet.

      • by c0lo (1497653)

        he tech is there, it's just expensive.

        That's what I wanted to emphasize. Somehow, I don't think the pacific islanders have the money to build an artificial archipelago [wikipedia.org] for themselves (I can bet the cost of it will be much less than the maintenance of a "floating village" for 5-10 years).

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday September 04, 2011 @10:59PM (#37305840)

    If the land belonging to these nations goes underwater for any length of time... who cares if their houses are intact? With no land, they've likely lost any ability to sustain themselves individually or as a culture.

    Or are these floating houses edible and self-repairing?

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      If the land belonging to these nations goes underwater for any length of time... who cares if their houses are intact? With no land, they've likely lost any ability to sustain themselves individually or as a culture.

      Or are these floating houses edible and self-repairing?

      Potable would be the first problem.

    • by kermidge (2221646)

      No reason not to build on ferro-cement pontoons; well-made they're durable (a century or three) and no reason one couldn't have enough room and flotation for all kinds plants and critters. (If you've got submerged metal fittings, you'd need zincs; you'd also need anti-fouling coating and/or a cleaning routine.) It'd put a crimp on burden but they could be built as boat hulls; worse gets to worst, one could unhook from neighbors and utilities, up mast, and sail away.

    • The houses may help if the sea rise is less severe. For example, instead of getting flooding once in 5 years, they now get it several times a year, but usually the island is above water. Such flooding will come with cyclones, so the floating houses will need to be well anchored. It is also not clear whether agriculture and fresh water supplies can be maintained in such circumstances.

      The simple fact that corral atolls are uniformly just above sea level despite sea level changes due to ice ages etc. shows tha

    • by Anonymous Coward

      2 words. Sea Cucumbers.

    • by mrjb (547783)

      With no land, they've likely lost any ability to sustain themselves individually or as a culture.

      FYI there didn't use to be as much land to the Netherlands as there is now. Quite a bit of it is below sea-level and used to be- wait for it- sea. Conquering that sea, pumping it away, building dykes and turning sea area in to land has been part of Dutch culture for a good while now. For those here who have been to the Hacking in Progress event in 1997 in Almere, the Netherlands- That whole area used to be sea.

  • Pretty sure people have been living on boats for a long time now. It combines all of the charm of living in a trailer with the joy of not having stable ground under your feet. It's not terrible, but the idea of a region changing en-mass to living in houseboats is absurd. What use is having a floating house if the roads are always flooded out and the utilities don't work?

    There are much better solutions to the problem if you live in a flood prone area.
  • .... Noah.

    Damn! Not enough room for the elephants or the donkeys. I guess you guys will have to fight it out as the water rises.

  • This really sounds like an "island" from the movie Waterworld...

  • US gov't insurance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sunfly (1248694) on Monday September 05, 2011 @12:00AM (#37306106)

    A lot of problems would go away if the US would simply get rid of its government flood insurance program. If you want to build a house somewhere its likely to get flooded, and its too risky for a private insurer to cover, and the bank won't loan without insurance... it won't get built. .

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Is this insurance you mention available to non-US people living on non-US land? That's who the target audience is. Should have held your anti-US rant for another article.

    • by westlake (615356) on Monday September 05, 2011 @11:03AM (#37308438)

      A lot of problems would go away if the US would simply get rid of its government flood insurance program.

      It is the sort of thing kids used to be taught about geography in grade school.

      You build along the river because the river provides cheap transportation, fresh water and power. The river often ends in a seaport - giving you a chance to become a major player in coastal and foreign trade.

      Periodic flooding means that your valley remains fertile, perhaps as fertile as the Mississippi Delta.

      For extra credit:

      Map the flood plain of the Mississippi, the Missouri and their tributaries.

      Count the number of people dependent on these rivers for their living, calculate the cost of moving every one of them to higher ground --- including the cost to American trade, agriculture and industry.

      • by Reziac (43301) *

        So go ahead and build the warehouses, the barge docks, etc, along the flood plain. Stuff that can get flooded with minimal structural damage (if you choose to keep rice or paper in your riverside warehouse, don't say we didn't warn you). But don't build the residentials there.

    • The NFIP was created because people were already building houses (and businesses) in floodplains and no insurer was willing to insure them. Moreover, it was the same 1968 legislation that created the NFIP that mandated flood insurance if a mortgage was to be issued for a property in a floodplain. So your guess that banks would not be willing to lend money without homeowners having flood insurance is factually incorrect unless you presume that the legislation requiring flood insurance was passed but the acco

  • A couple years ago I thought it would be a great idea to create a floating city in an expensive area like off San Deigo or San Fransisco where space and price are premium.

    If you could make a floating city you could earn 2 - 3 million a house. That is a lot of cash that would yield a great ROI and give price relief to those who live in these metropolitan areas. Just a thought I had.

    All you would need is the same rubber foam used to float various structures near the shore. Do it on a massive scale and you mak

  • Nothing new (Score:3, Informative)

    by AG the other (1169501) on Monday September 05, 2011 @12:24AM (#37306202)

    When I was growing up, during visits to my grandmothers we would visit the Ouachita river to fish. Yes it's a word. It's from some Amerind culture.
    There were lots of structures that were built on 55 gallon barrels and tied to trees with big ropes for the annual floods. They even had a union in the gas pipe so that the gas could be turned off and the house allowed to float up off the foundation.
    When the flood was over the neighbors would get together and help put everyone's house back where they belonged.
    Floating houses another recycled idea. Hopefully someone hasn't tried to patent it. There is plenty of prior art.

  • what a dumb idea - you can't float a country. Those people are fucked. In 200 years we will all be living at the Arctic circle....
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Maybe in the future there will be advanced scientists who can obtain food from the ocean. They will call those amazing people 'fishermen'.

    • "Soylent Houseboat People" . . . the main foodstuff of houseboat people will be . . . other houseboat people. It's a shame that there won't be any Fava beans, though.

      Fishermen? "I will teach you to be a fisher of . . . men." Wow, that old quip seems to make more sense now.

  • Uhm guys, floating houses already exist for decades here in the Netherlands, and then I don't even count our famous "woonboot" (houseboat), which would extend that period to hundreds of years. Looks like the world is reinventing the wheel, except that a wheel of course quite useless in water...

  • Floating houses for low-flying countries.

    It made me think of the airborne aircraft carrier in Sky Captain and the World of tomorrow... only entire countries instead of just an aircraft carrier. That would be pretty awesome.

    • It made me think of the airborne aircraft carrier in Sky Captain and the World of tomorrow...

      And that made me think of Angelina Jolie.

      • She really was the worst part of that movie. Maybe someday they'll release a directors cut that cuts out every scene with her in it.

  • + nasty storm = ?

  • It's called a boat.
  • Floating houses were already designed 1000's of years ago, they're called boats.

    But on topic, 'floating' houses are nothing new, we've had them for decades already here in the Netherlands

  • With apologies to Steven Wright: "One day, when I came home from work, I accidentally put my car key in the door of my apartment building... I turned it... and the whole building started up.... So I drove it around.... A policeman stopped me for going too fast... He said, 'Where do you live?'... I said, 'Right here'... Then I drove my building onto the middle of a highway, and I ran outside, and told all of the cars to get the hell out of my driveway."
  • by Fuzzums (250400)

    Well. We all remember what "a flood" will look like. For low-laying countries this could very well look the same, so even IF the house will float you'll have to look for it between tons of rubble, driftwood and cars...

    • by cvtan (752695)
      Sorry but the 7 ft of water in your living room was not a flood, but a hurricane, which is not covered under your policy. This has been a public service announcement from your friendly insurance company.
  • ... doesn't have to be much, but it has to be actual land. And if you want to claim some sort of exclusive economic rights over the surrounding seas the land has to be habitable (look up Okinotori Islands). A perpetually floating house is a ship even if it used to be moored on solid ground. And it can't be registered in a country that doesn't exist because it's underwater.

    But I don't suppose your lack of statehood would be your most pressing concern.

  • Gizmag, brought to you by Samsung.

    Seriously, I browsed through 4 pages and came across 7 plugs for Samsung products.

    If you're going to accept sponsorship then you should disclose it.

  • Too bad the Atlantians didn't think of this.
  • They invented a boat.

  • yea, we have seen this stuff before:
    http://www.coastalcontractor.net/article/189.html [coastalcontractor.net]
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113513752 [npr.org]
    http://www.buoyantfoundation.org/ [buoyantfoundation.org]

    I guess "buoyant house" would be a better description

Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it. -- Perlis's Programming Proverb #58, SIGPLAN Notices, Sept. 1982

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