I cover a lot of wacky aquatic contraptions on this blog, including floating megacities, recycled oil rigs, and underwater restaurants. Two names keep popping up: Koen Olthuis and Waterstudio.nl.
Olthuis is the founder of Waterstudio.nl, an architectural group that has invented some of the most bizarre, futuristic, and practical aquatic buildings out there. Wait, hold on – practical? Practical doesn’t fit very well with “bizarre and futuristic.”
Well, it’s true. Despite the fact that the bulk of his building designs somehow incorporate buoyancy and tidal fluctuation, Olthuis’s designs are shockingly simple and functional.
You see, Olthuis approaches aquatic architecture very differently from other architects. Usually, when somebody wants to build some sort of floating city, manmade island, or flashy submerged structure, it’s because they want to attract tourists. That kind of thinking leads to utterly absurd designs, like a hotel made of ice in the middle of the desert.
Olthuis approaches aquatic architecture from a much more practical perspective. Olthuis is from the Netherlands, and the Dutch take the ocean very seriously. Why? Because it’s slowly swallowing the entire country.
Olthuis and his crew have been developing a number of floating structures to counteract the encroaching sea. First and foremost, Olthuis wants to make buildings that stay afloat.
Sure, he does have a few more ambitious projects, but the crucial difference between Olthuis and the inventor of the ice hotel is that Olthuis creates floating structures because he must, not because he’s got a check for 5 trillion dollars and needs to make something that will impress the investors.
Olthuis’s work can provide interesting insight into the future of aquatic architecture, because his practical and realistic approach is not common in a field of architecture full of lavish excess and big money.
The only question is whether or not his ideas will catch on. Once rising water levels put a stranglehold on other countries, will the logical and simple designs of Olthuis provide a possible solution, or will the world discover that Olthuis is in the same boat as all of those other dreamy architects – that large scale aquatic living just isn’t feasible?