18 februari, 2014 | Door Dimitry

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Recently, the Dutch have built an entirely new and unique floating residential district named IJburg on IJmeer, a lake east of Amsterdam, accommodating 18,000 residential units housing 45,0000 people.

These floating houses are designed like Dutch-style rowhouses, tight, skinny, three-story homes that face canals, as well as more modern-looking high-rises. Skinny alleys and wide boulevards. Housing for all income levels. There are schools, restaurants, bars, churches, 12,000 work places (eventually), plus a tram that brings residents to the center of Amsterdam in 15 minutes. It feels like an old, settled community, even though the whole thing, is completely new.

Also, the homes aren′t so little. They are true houses, three bedrooms, two baths, 1,800 square feet. So far in IJburg, there are 158 of these, the first and largest floating home community in the world. And they may well be the wave of the future. They are energy-efficient: the bedrooms are set into the concrete hulls that rest in the lake, which means the water acts as air conditioning in the summer and insulation in the winter. They are portable: while they are plugged into the main supplies of water, heat, and electricity by means of floating jetties but can always be detached, moved, plugged in somewhere else.

About one third of the Netherlands lies below the sea, that’s why Holland, for centuries, has been clearing wetlands and lakes and keeping the water at arm′s length with dikes, dams, and floodgates. Amazingly, it′s worked. The problem is that all of those clever structures act as a barrier not just to flooding but to growth as well. Space for urban development is quite few, there for, building upon water is a solution.

Besides the pragmatic motives, another, more aesthetic argument is in favor of living on the water as it fosters a feeling of liberty and of closeness to nature.

Image courtesy of bowcrest

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Toon woningen in IJburg