Home Database Adaptation options Floating and amphibious housing
Adaptation option

Floating and amphibious housing

Floating and amphibious houses are built to be situated in a water body and are designed to adapt to rising and falling water levels. Floating houses are permanently in the water, while amphibious houses are situated above the water and are designed to float when the water levels rise. Amphibious homes are usually fastened to flexible mooring posts and rest on concrete foundations. If the water level rises, they can move upwards and float. The fastenings to the mooring posts limit the motion caused by the water. These type of houses are popular in highly populated areas where there is a high demand for houses near or in water. Because floating or amphibious houses adapt to rising water levels, they are very effective in dealing with floods. Living on water can also reduce the negative effects of heat, and may improve the quality of life of residents, who like to live on or near water. Floating houses have already been built in various countries, like The Netherlands and the UK, and amphibious houses in The Netherlands. The scale can vary from individual houses to major groupings of dwellings to, theoretically, full-blown floating cities. So far, this option has been most experimented with in inland surface waters, but marine applications are possible.

Additional Details
Reference information

Adaptation Details



IPCC categories

Structural and physical: Engineering and built environment options

Stakeholder participation

Involvement of stakeholders at different stages is important. Next to the governmental authorities at the appropriate level (municipalities, water boards) these can include citizens, NGOs, service providers, architects, engineers/contractors. Dependent on the specific local situation, there can be both supporters (e.g., interested future buyers, project developers) and adversaries (e.g., environmental/nature NGOs).

Costs and Benefits

In a typical development plan the ground price is a determining factor. For building floating and amphibious housing, the price of the water surface area is less critical. Usually the price of the water surface area is much lower than the typical ground price. However, these houses do bring higher building costs because of the adaptation measures needed for dealing with rising water levels. The building costs depend on the number of houses built, the location, the design and the used materials/techniques. The investment is normally returned in less than 10 years. The flood resistant capacity of these houses has a positive effect on their value. If houses move with the swell they are less valued. The same is true for houses that are poorly accessible and are located further from the city and main transit lines.

These type of houses hardly need monitoring, but the self-containing infrastructure of a floating neighbourhood does need periodic maintenance. The maintenance of buildings usually is the responsibility of the owner. Access and services (water supply, sewage disposal, power, gas, etc.) may be more expensive than for regular houses.

Governments / local authorities are responsible for the realisation of these houses. At least, they have to assign the possibility, locations and conditions under which floating and amphibious housing is allowed in their policies and regulations, and generally have to arrange for access and services. This is an option that offers many opportunities for private sector innovations and can be realized in public-private initiatives (collaboration with architecture or project development company).

Implementation Time

1-10 years.

Life Time

More than 20 years.

Reference information

DG CLIMA project "Adaptation Strategy of European Cities"

Published in Climate-ADAPT Jun 07 2016   -   Last Modified in Climate-ADAPT Sep 10 2022

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