Waterstudio.NL is an architectural firm located in the Netherlands that is confronting the challenge of developing solutions to the problems posed by urbanization and climate change. The prognoses is that by 2050 approximately 70% of the world’s population will live in urbanized areas. Given the fact that about 90% of the world’s largest cities are situated on the waterfront, we have arrived to a situation where we are forced to rethink the way we live with water in the built environment. Considering the unpredictability of future developments and unanticipated needs, we should come up with flexible strategies – planning for change. Our vision is that large-scale floating projects in an urban environment provide a tangible solution to these problems that is both flexible as well as sustainable.
Koen Olthuis (1971) studied Architecture and Industrial Design at the Delft University of Technology. In 2007 he was chosen as no. 122 on Time Magazine's list of most influential people in the world due to the increasing worldwide interest in water developments. In addition, the French magazine, Terra Eco, choose him in 2011 as one of 100 green persons that will change the world.
According to his vision, today’s designers are an essential part of the climate change generation and should start to enhance their perspective by considering urban components that are dynamic instead of static. His solution, called City Apps, are floating urban components that add a particular function to the existing static grid of a city. Using existing urban water as building ground relieves space for a new density, providing worldwide opportunities for cities to respond flexibly to climate change and urbanization.
The first city, in which this vision is being developed, is The Westland, located near The Hague in Holland. This project incorporates both floating social housing, floating islands, and floating apartment buildings. In 2010, the government of the Maldives agreed to develop a floating city, floating islands, floating golf courses, floating hotels, and a floating conference center as a part of a joint venture. This masterplan for the Maldives is a solution in response to the urgency caused by rising sea levels, but these new developments will also be beneficial in encouraging social and economic advancement. All over the world people have started to see the potential of floating developments. This has resulted in projects in several countries like China, UAE, and European countries.
Floating developments, in particular, have the ability to make a positive impact on slum communities that are living in conjunction with water. There are many communities all over the world that are threatened by rising sea levels, and Waterstudio seeks to shed light on people that are currently living without the most fundamental of necessities. Slum communities are here to stay, and aiding these communities by upgrading living standards will fortify the cultures associated with these areas, unmatched by any other communities in the world. City Apps offer a flexible and adaptable design, creating solutions to specific needs of each area. City Apps have opened up a new avenue full of possibilities that address modern problems with customizable solutions, which is exactly what complicated issues require. Slum communities will benefit greatly from City Apps, and Waterstudio is set on paving the way for more aid to get to more people.
A sustainable future lies beyond the waterfront!