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Are Floating Buildings a Viable Option for Development?

Ask a building developer to describe the ideal land for development and it's unlikely they'll say 'land where development is prohibited or restricted due to flooding issues'. However, it is exactly this kind of land that London-based H2ydro Properties are looking for.

Calling their development concept 'a new and innovative system for the creation of residential and commercial communties', H2ydro are offering what they consider to be a solution to rising water levels, turning areas of land previously considered unusable into viable development opportunities.

The basic technologies involved have been used in construction for over 70 years, with the completed building offering many of the same perks as a regular house. Mutliple storeys and basements can be included, the property is guaranteed for ten years, it exceeds all building regulations, and can easily reach level 5 of Britain's Code for Sustainable Homes. H2ydro also claim the buildings are subject to normal mortgages and insurance, though little mention is given of the price for such a home.

The floating element of the design is actually quite simple. The home is rooted to the ground on numerous pillars which allow upward movement. If water rises around the property, the building simply moves up with it thanks to its floating base. As water recedes, the building returns to its original position.

However, water is a powerful and not entirely predictable force, and the risk of building on land subject to flooding is always going to be higher than building on secure land, regardless of the technologies involved.

Whilst there are examples of successful water management - the most developed parts of the Netherlands are below sea level - it is questionable whether cities like London should be fighting a powerful natural element when there is a significant amount of underused land in the city, and thousands of empty houses. Granted, the legalities of developing such locations can be complex and time consuming, but the advantage is that they are located in developed areas, with amenities, services and established communities.

Floating buildings are an exciting concept, and if technologies truly have developed to the point where a floating home is a viable option, these achievements should be applauded. But with acres of unused or underused land in cities across the globe, should we really be considering building on water?