The Floating Citadel

Paul Raven @ 30-07-2009

Seems like hardly a week can pass by without some new example of architectural futurism cropping up in my RSS feeds. Here’s the latest nugget: The Citadel is (or rather will be, when it gets built as something more than a conceptual model) an example of the sea-beleaguered Dutch attempting to come to terms with the geography of the tidal plain that is their country.

The Citadel - floating apartment complex concept

The project will be built on a polder, a recessed area below sea level where flood waters settle from heavy rains. There are almost 3500 polders in the Netherlands, and almost all of them are continually pumped dry to keep flood waters from destroying nearby homes and buildings. The New Water Project will purposely allow the polder to flood with water and all the buildings will be perfectly suited to float on top of the rising and falling water.

[…]

A high focus will be placed on energy efficiency inside the Citadel. Greenhouses are placed around the complex, and the water will act as a cooling source as it is pumped through submerged pipes.

The Citadel seems to be an officially sanctioned project, but it’s easy to imagine that once the concepts behind it are loose in the market, buildings like it could become commonplace in marginal or disputed regions considered useless because of their water-logged state… something like a half-way house between regular land living and seasteading. If the increasingly alarming data coming from climate scientists is valid, there’s certainly going to be a lot of floodplains and polders to build on. [image by WaterStudio.nl]

A final thought: if architecture is a kind of science fiction (as Chairman Bruce and others have implied), are shiny Bright Green projects like The Citadel equivalent to the boldly optimistic pulp stories of the fifties and sixties? Will the actual buildings of the near future turn out to be something less lovely, more pragmatic, weathered by environmental compromise and gloweringly Ballardian?

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