Floating Buildings

  • Posted 10.10.13
  • NOVA

For generations, the Dutch have regarded the water surrounding them as an enemy, building dams and dykes to fend it off. But with climate scientists predicting sea level rises and increased flooding, some engineers are taking a different approach. Their solution? Floating buildings, which work with the water rather than against it, creating a real-life water world.

Running Time: 01:37


Floating Buildings

Posted: October 10, 2013

RUTGER DE GRAAF (Civil Engineer): And here you can see the three connected domes. Two of them are transparent.

NARRATOR: This geodesic pavilion floats in the port of Rotterdam.

RUTGER DE GRAAF: I think a floating city might be the safest place to be if there’s a hurricane or flood. That’s the place where I would go.

NARRATOR: Rutger de Graaf runs the firm that designed the pavilion, which hosts conferences, performances, and parties.

RUTGER DE GRAAF: So it shows that it’s actually possible to make large buildings that float on water, and as such it’s the first step towards creating collections of floating buildings and infrastructure, which in the end will lead to creating floating cities.

NARRATOR: He calls it a blue revolution. Eventually, he envisions self-sustaining cities in the middle of the ocean.

RUTGER DE GRAAF: I think we’ll definitely live on the oceans before we are going to live on the moon or Mars.

NARRATOR: It seems far-fetched and it won’t be all clear sailing. At Delft, a developer built these two floating homes way out of balance. One is listing badly. The other is level thanks only to 6500 pounds of water stored on one side of the basement. They are looking for a more permanent solution.

Keeping their feet dry has always been a Dutch priority, but the key lesson they have learned over the years—simply fending off the water as if it were a mortal enemy is like tilting at windmills.



Miles O'Brien
Cameron Hickey
Original Footage
© WGBH Educational Foundation 2013


(Floating City Illustrations)
Courtesy DeltaSync
(Aspects (Intro 1))
© iStockphoto/clay73
(Fat Cello Pizzicato)
© iStockphoto/Beano5


(main image: floating building)
© WGBH Educational Foundation 2013

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