Architects Design Floating Homes for Sinking Island


Young architects will design floating houses as part of a competition to promote a housing model in Kiribati, an isolated nation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Rising sea levels mean the island of Kiribati, a low-lying nation made up of 33 islands, is at risk of disappearing.

The island's highest spot just two metres above sea level, means Kiribati is home to one of the lowest heights above sea level in the world.

The rising ocean has broken through freshwater ponds on its islands, with some villages already gone.

The Young Architects Competition (YAC) says the purpose of the competition is to “create a new dwelling model in order to globally tackle the challenges of the rise in ocean levels and climate change”.

“The competition regards [Kiribati] one of the last most fragile paradises of our planet,” YAC says.

“Kiribati Floating Houses aims at promoting a housing model able to provide local populations with high quality architectural solutions.”

Related: ‘A Burning Issue’: Mike Cannon-Brookes at UN Climate Summit

▲ Kiribati is the 11th-largest Oceanian country with a population of 120,100. It comprises 33 atolls situated at the heart of the Polynesian Triangle.

The competition's jury includes Kengo Kuma, Studiomobile’s Cristiana Favretto, and the Kiribati government architect Teuea Tebau, with the project expected to use local technologies and materials.

It is not the first time floating homes or cities have been posed as a solution to urban or climate challenges.

Earlier this year UN-habitat held a roundtable discussion, involving marine engineers, scientists, architects and entrepreneurs to discuss such solutions.

Related: Indonesia To Spend Billions On Move To New Capital City In Borneo

▲ Kiribati. A film still from 'Anote's Ark' by Matthieu Rytz.
▲ A village in Kiribati. Film still from 'Anote's Ark' by Matthieu Rytz.

Oceanix City, a proposal by Danish studio Bjarke Ingels Group and non-profit company Oceanix, unveiled their design for the floating city concept at the United Nations headquarters in April this year as “the future of sustainable living”.

The project addresses housing shortages and threats from rising sea levels, with a design that is said to withstand natural disasters like floods, tsunamis, and hurricanes and potentially house up to 10,000 residents.

BIG founding partner Bjarke Ingels describes the proposal as exploring the “next frontier for human settlements”.

YAC, an association with the aim of promoting architectural competitions among young designers, says the deadline for Kiribati's floating house design is 22 January 2020.

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