Global design practice Grimshaw and Dutch manufacturing specialists Concrete Valley have developed an innovative design for Modular Water Dwellings, in response to the growing risks of climate change and the challenges of increasing urbanisation.
With a growing global population and an increase of people living in cities, high land values are causing a shortage of affordable housing in urban areas. Grimshaw and Concrete Valley’s Modular Water Dwellings have been conceived as a potential solution to this problem, offering affordable housing, free of the constraints of land-based construction and resilient to the mounting threat of flooding from rising sea-levels.
The collaboration to develop this concept combines Grimshaw’s tradition of experimentation and design innovation with Concrete Valley’s expertise in manufacturing high-quality and durable materials. Together, Grimshaw and Concrete Valley have proposed an assembly-line approach, creating a modular product from components in a factory setting, with the benefits of economies of scale and quality control. This process optimises off-site manufacturing to deliver mass-market affordability and an attention to detail that has been lacking in previous built examples of this type.
In responding to the challenges of climate change, it is imperative that the concept uses resources efficiently, with a minimised carbon footprint and sustainability at the core of its ambition.
The Modular Water Dwellings incorporate standardised components that provide efficiency in manufacturing, while still allowing a variety of internal layouts for occupants’ individual requirements. The Dwellings can be orientated and spaced in different ways, responding to varying site contexts, local conditions, light sources and primary views. They also maximise the use of durable and non-corroding materials, such as concrete and glass, ensuring a long design life that anticipates multiple occupants.
In responding to the challenges of climate change, it is imperative that the concept uses resources efficiently, with a minimised carbon footprint and sustainability at the core of its ambition. Concrete Valley’s manufacturing facility is situated on a main industrial waterway in the Netherlands, allowing the Dwellings to be transported whole along the water, removing the need for site assembly and reducing the embodied energy of construction. Complete off-site construction in a factory setting minimises waste, with materials easily recycled, and reduces environmental impact.
The Water Dwellings use minimal energy, with well-insulated and shaded lower pontoons and upper stories, and energy provided by solar roof panels and heat exchangers built into base boxes below the waterline. By developing a communal energy supply, the Water Dwellings’ environmental efficiency has the potential to achieve near zero energy use.
The Modular Water Dwellings design also prioritises the experience of their users, providing a close connection to nature through their proximity to water, improving occupants’ wellbeing. The Dwellings encourage an active lifestyle, through activities such as water sports, and promote a strong sense community through shared spatial resources, such as floating gardens and terraces.