Smart and beautiful – floating architecture in Vietnam & Germany

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Floating houses on Lusatia Lakeland, East Germany, Marina Geierswalde
Floating houses on Lusatia Lakeland, East Germany, Marina Geierswalde

The people of Vietnam have been using floating houses to create living space on the water for generations – an exciting concept that could also be exploited in the future. This is because the South East Asian country has an acute shortage of living space for its growing population.

Large tracts of Vietnamese land may be uninhabitable in the future

The population of Vietnam is growing at a rate of more than 1,200 a day, all of whom require additional living space and infrastructure. Within 30 years, there will be 5 million additional Vietnamese requiring living space than there are today. However, there will be significantly less land available for settlement on the mainland: the waters of the South China Sea are rising inexorably along the over 3,000 kilometres of coastline and may make large tracts of land uninhabitable in the future.

Hygiene standards in the traditional floating markets are too low

In their current form, the traditional floating constructions in Vietnam do not yet fulfil the requirements for sustainable urban development. Hygiene standards in the floating markets known to many tourists are low, and the water is polluted – a disadvantage not least for the economically important tourism sector and fishing industry.

Opening up valuable settlement space on the water

Help could be at hand with the floating smart houses showcased by the urban research network SCHWIMMTOUR headed by Eduard Völker of Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg (BTU). The researchers have developed and mostly tested the innovative and smart living concept in Germany’s Lusatian lake district. The area in the East of Germany had gone through challenging times, when several lignite opencast mines were decommissioned and flooded. Now the area is being transformed into Europe´s largest artificial lake district. The groundbreaking concept of smart floating architecture developed in the formerly abandoned East-German region illustrates once again how challenging times can fuel innovations.

German and Vietnamese researchers team up

SCHWIMMTOUR Team (BTU C-S) and colleagues of Hanoi Architectural University, Vietnam May 2017
SCHWIMMTOUR Team (BTU C-S) and colleagues of Hanoi Architectural University, Vietnam May 2017

Now the innovative German scientists hope to support their Vietnamese colleagues in mastering the demanding tasks lying ahead to open up valuable, yet affordable, settlement space for the growing Vietnamese population. An international research partnership agreement is soon to be concluded between Hanoi Architectural University and BTU. At the same time, the hope is for the cooperation with their Vietnamese colleagues to facilitate an exchange of experiences, ideas and new scientific knowledge, for example as to how the pontoons for the floating constructions can be made using local materials such as bamboo instead of steel concrete or plastic.

Forward-looking technologies make floating houses self-sufficient

The smart floating houses feature forward-looking technologies which make the amenities available to their inhabitants simple yet highly effective. Wastewater is 99 % purified using membrane filter systems and smart sewage systems and septic tanks are in place. Inhabitants of the floating houses can obtain clean drinking water from filtered, treated rainwater, and electricity is generated by windmills and solar collectors. Each house generates enough electricity to operate its own lighting, refrigerator, stove and mobile phone. In addition, it powers an underwater heat exchanger featuring a passive cooling-system with capillary tube mats that uses river or lake water to cool or heat the interior as required.

In accordance with local planning, the floating homes could be arranged in floating groups, lines or even villages. The technology of the floating structures uses a light-weighted and flexible assembly structure that can be adapted to the owner’s economic condition.

More information

"Shaping the Future – Building the City of Tomorrow"
The project SCHWIMMTOUR is funded as part of the international BMBF campaign "Shaping the Future – Building the City of Tomorrow". The campaign offers 10 excellent research networks from Germany a platform to present their innovative projects for sustainable urban development abroad. It reaches out to connect strong partners from research, industry and municipalities around the world – for smart city solutions worldwide.

Campaign: “Shaping the Future – Building the City of Tomorrow”

Campaign: “Shaping the Future – Building the City of Tomorrow”

The international campaign of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) focuses on the future of urban development. More Campaign: “Shaping the Future – Building the City of Tomorrow”