Floating cities may seem straight out of the pages of science fiction, but the truth is, humans have lived and cultivated floating habitats for centuries.
“We have compiled a list of 64 case studies from floating indigenous communities around the world,” said Julia Watson, senior lecturer in design at Harvard University and author of LO-TEK. Design by Radical Indigenism, a book exploring the design lessons we can learn from indigenous cultures. “Moreover, these indigenous systems have always been inherently sustainable, which our cities are not today. “
Examples of floating communities can still be found today, such as the cultivated reed islands of the Uru people on Lake Titicaca, on the border of Bolivia and Peru. Floating gardens are even more common, especially in Bangladesh, where farmers sow seeds on “rafts” made of floating weeds, which rise and fall with the flood waters following the annual monsoons.
Ironically enough, it was the construction of large cities that led to the demise of many of these aquatic dwellings and practices, which are now touted as the future of city living.
“In Europe and China, the development of cities and the filling of wetlands and lakes have unfortunately erased a lot of these technologies,” Watson said.
Back in Amsterdam, van Namen struggled with another issue as we stood at the end of Waterbuurt’s main pier, watching one of the residents guide a paddleboard between two floating houses.
“The floating doubles [semi-detached houses] gave us a real headache. Especially in the beginning, when one was busy and the other was not, “he said, a twinkling smile already on his face.” Now a normal household has about a few tons of things to bring, so you can. imagine there were a lot of these doubles that seemed a little… off balance. Van Namen held his arm at a 45-degree angle to illustrate his point, before hitting his knee in remembrance.