Architectural design takes all forms, with a focus from the ground up. But UOOU, an Amsterdam- and London-based design practice, came up with an architectural proposal that doesn’t consider the ground at all. Instead, the team focused on creating a housing solution for a group of atolls floating in the South Pacific Ocean, somewhere between Hawaii and Australia.
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Gianluca Santosuosso and Eri Pontikopoulou, with consultation from Matthias Kimmel, came up with the sustainable urban planning concept, which addresses the need for controlled growth over time. The area is known as the Republic of Kiribati. The problem is rising waters and limited landmass; the solution is floating structures.
The overall blueprint for the community resembles a tree, with the town center being the trunk while the housing units make up the branches. These units are focused on not only providing shelter but communing with the surrounding elements of nature. The designers kept the division between outdoors and inside thin, with openings to enjoy sunlight, the sky and the view of the Pacific Ocean from inside. Locally sourced, natural materials, particularly wood, are used to honor the culture and the oceanscape.
In the center of each housing pod group is a versatile, open-air space for meeting the needs of the community. The land on an otherwise floating structure can house gardens, animals or pools for fish farming. The area offers protection from the corrosive effects of the surrounding waters while providing the opportunity to grow food and raise animals that are essential to the residents.
The primary source of electricity comes from photovoltaic panels placed on slanted roofs of the homes. In addition to harvesting energy from the sun, the tilted roofs act as a source of rainwater collection. The water runs through enclosed pipes for maximum collection efficiency and is then stored in tanks below the homes. Although the floating houses would be connected to a larger community, the solar and water systems allow them to be more self-sufficient and even contribute to the neighbors as needed.
The Kiribati Floating Houses concept is presented by UOOU Studio, which said, “Our work focuses on architecture that connects man-made environments with nature, putting eco- and human-oriented design at the core of our mission.”
Images via UOOU Studio