Vietnamese lakes and rivers could become home to floating houses and settlements developed in cooperation with German scientists of the SCHWIMMTOUR network. Inhabitants of these settlements will be able to supply their own water and energy and purify their waste water themselves. An international research partnership agreement is soon to be concluded by Hanoi Architectural University and the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg (BTU).
The people of Vietnam have been using floating houses to create living space on the water for generations – an enticing 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. The population 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 more Vietnamese requiring living space than there is 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.
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.
Help could be at hand with the floating smart houses that are being developed and tested by the SCHWIMMTOUR researchers, for example in Germany’s Lusatian lake district. The forward-looking technologies make the amenities available to their inhabitants simple yet highly effective. Water is 99 % purified, inhabitants 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 besides powering an underwater heat exchanger that uses river or lake water to cool or heat the interior as required.
Experts of the SCHWIMMTOUR network and their scientific partners in Hanoi now aim to investigate how the traditional floating house and market concept in Vietnam could be developed using sustainable German technologies to open up valuable yet affordable settlement space. Researchers at the University of Cottbus-Senftenberg hope that their cooperation with their Vietnamese colleagues will 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.
The SCHWIMMTOUR network is one of ten Smart City networks organised as part of the international BMBF campaign “Shaping the Future – Building the City of Tomorrow”.