Floating House- 2 Types of Floating Houses & Amazing Examples

Floating house is always an attraction to those who cares for the aesthetics and beauty of their residence. More than anything, they have this advantage to sustain from flood.

Today, we are going to find out all the interesting aspects of this civil engineering wonder.

What are floating houses?

“Floating”  term in the foundation  engineering is used when the soil beneath the footing does not experience any extra load , as the load of the structure is equal  or less than the soil displaced.

Floating houses are similar in concept and normally defined those houses which are constructed on water in a way that the load of the structure is equal or less than the uplift force of the water which helps in floating the house on water.

Now, let me show you the different types of floating houses.

Types of floating houses

There are two types.

  1. House which permanently float
  2. House that floats during flood

We will learn each of them in depth next.

1. House that permanently float

These type of floating houses are constructed by the mechanism that allows it to float permanently.

Green roofed Schwimm Haus Boat by German architects.
Green roofed Schwimm Haus Boat by German architects.

2. House that floats during flood

These are houses that float only during flood water, else get placed on the ground ,particularly during dry season if there is no water.

The figure below shows floating houses during flood. They are an easiest homemade solution with foam blocks under your home. The 4 guide posts keep the house in place as it rises, just like a floating docks

Houses that float during flood
Houses that float during flood

There is a home in Kerala which was widely appreciated for the innovation.

The whole building is made of steel (GI pipe). The walls are made of multi wood sheet on both sides.

The home is built by P Gopalakrishnan Achari from Ernakulam district in Kerala. To avoid the floating house from being swept away by the floodwaters, he placed four steel pistons at 25 feet into the earth in four corners through the walls.

The house is supported on the inner rods of these pistons.

During floods, the house will move up along with the air tank with the piston.

When the water recedes, it will automatically come back to the normal level. The house will not move an inch on to the sides.

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Now, let’s look into some exciting examples of floating houses.

Examples of a floating house

  1. The figure below depicts a house that was built on a steel platform structure with steel pontoons.
House built on steel platform
House built on steel platform
Photo by Florian Holzherr

2. The house shown below is designed by Morphosis Architects and students from UCL. They collect its own water, generates its own electricity, and is capable of floating as high as 12 feet on rising flood waters.

Flotation is made possibly by a single unit of expanded polystyrene foam coated in glass fiber reinforced concrete.

Floating house in which floating by expanded polystyrene foam coated in glass FRC
Floating house in which floating by expanded polystyrene foam coated in glass FRC

3. The building in the figure below is amphibious home that rests on land but are built to rise when waters rise. When the river swells the house will float as much as 18 feet. It floats back down as the water subsides.

It is designed by Factor Architecten.

Amphibious home

Also read: Infrared Thermography in Civil Engineering: Applications & Pros and Cons Simplified

In the next section, let’s discuss some technical jargon. After all, the beauty emerged from it, right?

Principle of a floating house

  • Floating house do not require foundation and are based on the  principle  of buoyancy. Thus known as  buoyant   homes.
  • Base of the structure  should be such that it help in floating as well as able to take dead load, live load and other load to encountered by the  house.
  • The houses may be constructed on boat, hollow pipe, light weight pads and similar materials which help in floating as well  as take up load.

That was the principle behind it. Next, let us particularly look into the technology behind vertically moving floating houses.

Principle of a vertically moving floating house

  • A steel frame that hold the floatation blocks is attached to the underside of the house.
  • There are four ‘vertical guidance’ poles not far from the corners of the house.
  • The tops of poles attached  to steel frame.
  •  The poles  telescopes out of the ground, allowing the house to move up and down.

What about the services that would be available in a floating houses?

Services available with a floating house

  • All the ducts and wires for water, gas, electricity and sewage disposal in such amphibious homes are flexible , designed to remain functional even when the house rises several metres from its usual  position
  • Solar panels are provided for energy requirements
  • In-cino-let toilets which burn waste are provided
  • Drinking water is collected from rainstorms and filtered into glass partition wall  inside
  • The  inner  temperature  is regulated in case of geothermal pond loop

Here comes, the most interesting aspect. How about the life in the miracle?

Life in floating houses

  • Relaxing
  • Romantic
  • Comfortable
  • Low storage space
  • Less accommodation
  • Cost
  • Heating/cooling
  • Maintenance
  • Safe during flood

Okay. So, now it feels so good. In an environmental friendly approach, is it relevant?

Need for floating houses

  • The sea level  is said to have risen by 20cm in last centuary.
  • It is expected to rise  by three amount in the 21st centuary.
  • So floating house will not be a fashionable style but necessary.
  • Safe  in  flood prone  areas  during floods.

Finally, let’s give quick trip through the moving houses which is a cousin of floating houses.

Moving houses

  • Envelope of houses can be fabricated , shown to customer and towed to the site.
  • The whole structure will require to be anchored to the  foundation.
  • If house owner wants to shift, it can be dismantled and reinstalled at other place.
  • Interiors  can  be placed as per the requirements  through  modular  parts  like  kitchen ,bath  etc.

Time to wrap up.

Conclusion

  • India has islands, coastal areas and areas highly prone to  flood.
  • So there need to construct  floating house and have expertise  in this type of construction.
  • There is need to develop  technology for  moving  houses which can be  transported and constructed  early  particularly  during  disaster or when required to be shifted  due to other consideration.

So, how was the journey through floating houses? I found it really awesome. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Photo credits: (https://insteading.com/)

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