People are imagining gigantic floating megacities, underwater skyscrapers, and complete suburbs set on the surface of lakes. Truly, the future is now! I think that my next apartment will be set in an underwater bubble at the bottom of the Atlantic, and I’ll pilot my flying car on the way to work.
We tend to associate aquatic architecture with futuristic, lavish design that costs millions upon millions of dollars, while representing the absolute peak of human architectural achievement. That reputation is fairly well earned, as seaside property tends to be much more valuable, which means that owners can generally afford absurdly expensive design. On top of that, the global warming scare is forcing many countries to turn to aquatic architecture just to keep their houses high and dry, so people tend to associate the future of climate change with aquatic architecture.
What’s important to remember, however, is that aquatic architecture isn’t quite as revolutionary as we often assume. Sure, it’s evolved over the years, but the seemingly radical idea of living on floating houses is centuries old. So if we ever wanted a model to see if floating suburbs are actually viable, we only need to look to our Vietnamese friends. Far to the East, in the famous Ha Long Bay, fishermen have been living in floating villages for hundreds of years.
And for these fisherman, the idea of moving to aquatic life was one borne out of necessity and convenience rather than the desire to show off wealth. For a fisherman, your boat is your livelihood. You spend the entirety of your working day on it, it provides food for your family, and it travels with you. It’s the logical next step to upgrade your boat into a boat house and just live where you work. That way, you and your family can migrate along with all of the other fisherman in a sort of aquatic community.
More than likely, American and European floating communities won’t exactly follow this model, as the bulk of people living in floating houses will probably drive to work everyday, rather than fishing for their livelihood. Nonetheless, the success of villages such as Ba Hong or Vông Viêng have demonstrated that you can effectively create a cohesive, friendly community on the water’s surface. Sure, you can’t exactly watch your boy ride his bike with the neighbors, and stormproofing your house will be a nightmare, but look on the bright side: you’ll never have to mow your lawn again.
Seriously, all jokes aside, living in a floating house may not be as bad as you think. At first glance, you may think that it would make you isolated from your neighbors or be incredibly inconvenient dealing with a boat every day, but floating communities may truly be the wave of the future, even if idea is centuries old.