AQUATECTURE – Reality Stranger Than Fiction

Water – the most captivating, mysterious and potent element of nature. Water is required for the sustenance of all life forms on earth. It has marked the course of human history by determining the location of all great civilizations. It is therefore unsurprising that the future is also set to be shaped by this element that covers 70% of the earth’s surface. With increasing population and finite land resources, humans will once again look towards water to meet their crucial need for shelter.

In architecture, water has always played a very vital role. Sourcing fresh water to meet the demands of the occupants of a building is of prime importance in any construction. Modern cities have been developed using techniques that allow for widespread availability of water while preventing the flooding that used to take place in ancient times. Apart from its functional value, water also adds to the aesthetic component of architecture. Several monuments and buildings use the reflective, flowing or dynamic properties of water to create stunning features that mesmerize viewers and enhance the visual effect drastically. In cities, properties that are located next to waterfronts or even afford a view of water from a distance tend to be priced 25% higher than normal. This alluring effect is explained by neuroscience as the “blue mind” effect, which shows that looking at water reduces stress levels, produces serotonin in the brain and leads to an effect of calmness and relaxation.

Da Chang Muslim Cultural Center Images copyright: Yao Li, Source:

Global climate change is an issue that is forcing development of future habitats along previously unknown and unthinkable directions. Possibilities of building and living on water are now being explored as a solution to the future land shortage crisis. “Amphibious buildings” are now a reality with prototypes being designed by architects that are set to spawn surreal floating cities. The architecture of future is set to pull out all stops to design buildings that are more resilient, sustainable and aim to reverse climate change. New advancements in materials and technology are being utilized to create built systems that are self-sufficient, autonomous and better managers of energy.

Architect Vincent Callebaut’s proposal of “Lilypad” is a floating ‘ecopolis’ for 50,000 residents. It consists of three marinas and three mountains dedicated to work, shops and entertainment respectively. The materials for construction include titanium dioxide and polyester fibres, which soak up the atmosphere’s pollution. A submerged artificial lagoon provides the ballast to keep the city afloat.

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Another bizarre design is the “Exbury Egg” which redefines riverside living. Consisting of a water tight wooden home that can be moved freely from location to location with the help of a boat, this innovation by PAD studio, SPUD group and Stephen Turner, is 6m long and 2.3m wide and environmental friendly.

Inspired by Mayan Architecture, Egyptian pyramids and Japanese pyramids, Architect Pierpaolo Lazzarini has come up with the proposal of Wayaland – a floating city-hotel consisting of modular pyramids. It consists of a conglomeration of buoyant platforms made of fibreglass, carbon and steel. Solar panels and wind turbines will be used to generate power, a desalination plant will be stored under the main level to provide water supply and floating gardens will be used to produce food. Wayaland is conceptualized as an entirely self-sufficient project that will revolutionize offshore living. It is currently being crowdfunded and it remains to be seen how successful this architectural marvel proves to be.

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In what seems to be a movement proving that reality is stranger than fiction, the concept of living on water is perhaps not as ludicrous as one would have imagined. Advancements in technology and the foray of capable minds into uncharted horizons once again proves the ingenuity and adaptability of human beings. Will water once again redefine the way people live on this planet? This reality will perhaps be seen sooner than imagined. Nevertheless it will be a welcome change to see the use of water for much more than transport or a pretty view.

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