BUILD Q4 2019

BUILD Q4 2019 36 Jun19363 Architectural Planning for the Future of Urban Developments Koen Olthuis is one of the foremost experts on water-based architecture on the planet. Alongside Richard Coutts and his firm, he has made an indelible impression on the global architectural landscape. Naturally, the firm was almost the de facto pick for the title of ‘Most Outstanding in Floating/Water-Based Architecture’ in the 2019 Design and Build Awards. Following this well-deserved success, we spoke to Koen to find out more about his singular expertise. neighbourhoods that look and feel just like traditional land-based areas but just happen to have a floating foundation that allows them to cope with water fluctuations. The full potential of floating developments opens up when we start thinking about dynamic city planning. Floating developments are highly flexible because buildings and even complete city-parts can easily be relocated to suit changing demands. We will move towards a dynamic approach to our building stock and start seeing our buildings as recyclable products with a second-hand market, reducing demoli- tion and new construction to a minimum.” It’s clear from the outset that Koen is one of those rare visionar- ies in the architectural sphere, driving for dramatic improvements where others look to inch forward. “The impact on reduction of CO2-emission and use of resources will be enormous. We predict that in about 30 to 50 years this will be our way of dealing with water-based city-planning - a dynamic and sustainable building strategy beyond the waterfront,” Koen adds. “Our engineers aim to provide best-in-class analytical and operational engineering to the marine industry.We facilitate and accelerate the transfer of knowledge and technology from Oil & Gas to other marine economies.” In his closing comments, Koen takes a moment to summarise’s founding ethos. “Now and moving forward we must strive to deliver innovative but efficient solutions for our cli- ents, while maintaining a forward thinking and evolving approach to marine technology development.” In 2007, Koen Olthuis was chosen as number 122 in Time Magazine’s list of ‘Most Influential People in the World’ due to renewed worldwide interest in water developments. More- over, French magazine Terra Eco chose him as one of the ‘100 People that will Change the World’ in 2011. In 2015, he was selected by an internationals jury as one of fifty young innovators of the 21st century in the book “50Under50”. reen is Good, Blue is better!” - Koen Olthuis At the centre of is an understanding that water plays a large, yet largely ignored, role in ar- chitecture. As Koen is quick to point out, 90% of the world’s larg- est cities are situated on the waterfront: “as such, we are forced to rethink the way we live with water in the built environment. More importantly, prognoses and research show that, by 2050, about 70% of the world’s population will live in urbanised areas.” Water then, plays a crucial role for the future of construction, so, on a global front, architects, designers and builders need to change the way they incorporate water into urban environments. That, in a nutshell, is the focus of Koen’s work at Waterstudio. blue. “The firm has taken up the challenge of developing solu- tions to the problems posted by urbanisation and climate change. Given the unpredictability of future developments we need to come up with flexible strategies – planning for change. Ultimately, our vision is that large-scale floating projects in urban environ- ments provide a solution to these problems that is both flexible as well as sustainable. We think that the full potential of floating developments will not be utilized directly however and predict the following trends for the upcoming 50 years.” For Koen, his work was always designed to set the groundwork for future change. He’s playing the long game with one eye set firmly on inciting a paradigm shift in the industry, as he continues. “Economic pressure and land prices in city centres often demand that old functions be demolished. The first step in water-based development for the upcoming 10 years, is to relocate such functions from the centre to the waterfront. This provides space for more economically feasible developments in expensive high-density areas while regenerating often dilapidated water- fronts. We call this trading places. “A next step would be expanding urban fabric beyond the waterfront: building normal urban configurations on water locations, with normal densities and usual typologies such as apartment-buildings, semi-detached housing etc. Water-based “G