What New York City Can Learn from Amsterdam’s Floating Houses

Posted: December 27, 2012 in Architecture, Flooding, Housing
Tags: , , , , , , ,
ILLUSTRATION BY TODD DETWILER

Hurricane Sandy, which battered the Northeast and flooded large parts of New York City, costing at least $34 billion and taking more than 100 lives, may have been a climatic anomaly. But it may also suggest a very real future of rising sea levels and coastal flooding triggered by climate change. If that is the case, no country offers a better master class in flood protection than the Netherlands, which spends $1.3 billion a year on flood control. The country’s favorite patriotic slogan—“God created the world but the Dutch created the Netherlands”—reflects the fact that much of the low-lying country should be waterlogged. The reason it’s not is a centuries-old network of dikes, floodgates, sluices, and canals, regulated by regional water control boards, which have reclaimed land, protected against storm surges, and ensured that water levels remain stable.

That’s why New York mayor Michael Bloomberg asked for Dutch advice in 2011 after Hurricane Irene, turning to Professor Jeroen Aerts of the Free University of Amsterdam. Aerts’s analysis of how to protect New York City and the Eastern Seaboard is due later this year, but if it follows the Dutch model, it will likely emphasize a form of hydraulic engineering that replicates the Dutch Delta Works projects, a massive system of storm surge barriers and levees. Whether there is enough state or federal money for that kind of infrastructure is the big unknown. If not, some coastal Americans may consider turning to buoyant, foundationless homes like the 75 floating houses of IJburg that bob in Amsterdam’s harbor.

Original Conde Nast Traveler article found here

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