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Floating cities the answer to anticipated rising sea levels

Dutch engineers see opportunities

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

DELFT - A Dutch design firm imagines floating cities as a response to climate change. Dutch engineers have long been known for designing innovative ways of managing water in flood-prone regions.

It is not surprising that designers in the Netherlands are envisioning floating cities that would make parts of low-lying nations habitable amid dramatically rising sea levels and storm surges linked to climate change.

Floating development does not solve all issues, but it can be a means of expanding the spectrum of possible solutions, comments Rutger de Graaf, a founding partner of DeltaSync, a Delft-based design and research company specializing in floating urbanization. The firm was spun-off from the Delft University of Technology.

De Graafís concept sees floating buildings rising with the sea levels, making them particularly suited to flooded population centres.

Rotterdam pilot project

Under DeltaSyncís plan for a floating city, large blocks of polystyrene foam connected by a frame of special, high-strength concrete would be used as floating devices, allowing the cities to be located in shallow waters. Dome-like structures would be linked to one another by floating pedestrian bridges. A floating highway would connect with existing cities.

Engineers envision that heat could be drawn from surface water and stored in the ground either under the floating city or onshore before being used to heat buildings.

Floating residential areas are supposed to form a significant part of the area in Rotterdam known as the Stadshavensgebied, where the first example of DeltaSyncís design is planned for 2010, in partnership with Public Domain Architecten, a Rotterdam-based architecture firm.

Floating cities could also help overcome the problem of skyrocketing real estate prices and congestion in many urban centers, according to architects at DeltaSync.