How Floating Infrastructure Is Changing City Design & Planning

How Floating Infrastructure Is Changing City Design & Planning

PSFK's consulting team looks at how developers are experimenting with floating solutions to execute various forms of urban infrastructure from public schools to houses just offshore.

Timothy Ryan, PSFK Labs
  • 6 january 2013

In a novel way to expand a city’s existing physical footprint, developers are experimenting with floating solutions that enable them to execute various forms of urban infrastructure from public parks to markets just offshore. Many cities have grown around river crossings and the ports so there is plenty of locations to employ this technology. Beyond increasing the capacity of development along a waterfront, these designs also have the ability to travel, serving communities across a city with a host of necessary services and bringing residents together around shared experiences. New examples of Floating Infrastructure are surfacing regularly. The consulting team at PSFK Labs has seen floating cinemas and even concepts for floating airports.Here are two of the best examples of Floating Infrastructure:


Floating Neighborhood Provides Viable Alternative To Sustainable Living

The city of Hamburg, Germany held a competition called ‘Houseboats on the Eilbek Canal’ in which prospective houseboat owners were invited to submit their creative ideas for vacant mooring sites. A selection committee chaired by the architect Jürgen Böge, had the of choosing 10 winners and 20 potential alternates from over 400 submissions, and nine of the ten boats are permanently moored. Though the utilization of houseboats in Hamburg is not altogether new, the houseboats signify a shift towards modern living and working on the water in sustainable ways.


Self Sustaining Boats Ensure Schools Stay Open During Monsoon Season

In response to the heavy seasonal rainfall and risk of flash flooding in Bangladesh, India, a local non-profit organization Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha has built solar-powered wooden boats that act as floating schools in the event of persistent floods. Each boat is built from natural, locally sourced materials, and includes a small library complete with electronic resources and laptops with Internet connectivity. Boats can host up to 30 people and double as a mode of transportation to pick up and drop off students from designated locations. The boats additionally function as communal workshops during after school hours, hosting adult education classes on agriculture, finance, health and hygiene. The innovation is in response to the disruptions monsoons can cause in India, where typically hundreds of schools shut down for up to four months a year.


+Environmental / Green
+financial services
+Home & Garden
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