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Floating Architecture

About 71% of the surface of the earth is covered by water, and close to 96.5% of the water is held by the oceans. Aside this, water exists in river, lakes, icecaps and galciers, and in the ground as soil moisture. The beautiful thing is that most of these places are inhabited by people. As a result of the water in these sites, they are prone to environmental disasters and increase in water levels occasioned by global warming. This has posed new challenges to the way people live and prompted architecture to rethink the designs of buildings in coastal areas.

These challenges have necessitated innovation in architecture, giving birth to float architecture. Floating architecture is a building unit such as buoyant structures built on bodies of water. This building unit has a floating system at their base which allows them to float on water. Floating buildings showcase a range of innovative projects, diverse materials and unconventional forms, and usually moved into location by a ship.

The essence of floating architecture is to adapt to changes in water levels and different climatic conditions. These mouth-gaping structures are available in Nigeria and other countries and are built for housing, cultural, educational, infrastructural and recreational purposes.

Environmental Design Process of Floating Architecture

Shahryar Habibi (2015) holds that to create a sustainable floating building, the main principles and concepts of environmental design process in floating architecture should include:

  • Adequate access
  • A floating building must make provision for a means of accessing the shore which must adequately serve the people living there.

  • Flotation system
  • A floating building must have a floatation system which maintains an acceptable level of stability appropriate to the use or likely use of the building and which will not be affected by minor impact; and is capable of withstanding the most adverse combination of loads it is likely to be exposed to.

  • Mooring piles
  • Mooring piles must be designed to adequately and safely resist all lateral loads resulting from the most adverse combination of loads which are likely to act on the flotation system and superstructure of the floating building and any vessel attached to the floating building or mooring piles.

  • General Materials
  • All materials used in a floating building or any structure associated with a floating building must be suitable for the conditions to which they are exposed.

  • Fastenings
  • All fastenings used in a floating building or any structure associated with a floating building, must be appropriate for the conditions to which they are exposed taking into account their ability to be maintained or replaced if necessary.

  • Location
  • The location of a floating building must maintain an acceptable level of amenity between any other building and any proposed building.

  • Safety equipment
  • Floating building must have appropriate life safety devices suitable for marine use.

  • Firefighting equipment
  • Floating building must have access to appropriate levels firefighting equipment to safeguard against fire spread.

  • Minimum water depth
  • Water depth under a floating building must at all times be sufficient to prevent grounding of the building.

The principles, concepts and factors that must be considered in sustainable floating buildings are inexhaustible but the ones mentioned above must also be duly observed to create environmentally-sustainable floating architecture.

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