As sea levels rise and coastal cities try to figure out how to deal with the threat of flooding, some cities are starting to consider building farther from the water’s edge. Other cities might not want to retreat. The other approach: Constructing buildings tough enough to handle any storm.
This design concept, the Ark Hotel from Russian architecture firm Remistudio, is entirely waterproof, so if water levels rise too much, it can actually float in the ocean.
"The lower part of the building has enough displacement to stay afloat," architect Alexander Remizov explains. "The large area and oval shape help make it stable during wind and storms. It’s not a ship and isn’t intended for self-navigation, but it can drift and it can be towed in the right direction by another ship."
The hotel is also completely self-sufficient. It creates its own energy and recycles all waste inside. "It leaves no trace on the environment," Remizov says. The curved shape helps solar panels on the outside collect the maximum amount of sunlight, and also helps feed wind into a separate generator. Waste generated by the building’s occupants is turned into more power. In total, the building generates enough extra energy that it can help power neighboring homes or electric cars.
Inside, the lobby is filled with plants chosen for their ability to help clean the air. Under the glass ceiling, there’s a small park-like space for guests to relax.
It’s designed to be simple to build, with a prefab frame that uses few materials. "In natural disasters it can be quickly assembled and put in operation, because it doesn’t need complex and expensive infrastructure," Remizov explains. The unique shape helps bear weight along the entire frame, so it’s also well-suited for places that are at risk for earthquakes.
The design was originally created for an International Union of Architects competition that looked at solutions for disaster relief. While it hasn’t been built, Remizov thinks it’s a viable option for developers. "The coast is an attractive place for development," he says. "But it’s not always possible to ensure the safety of buildings on the coastline, for example, in areas prone to tsunamis. In this case, the floating building is a foolproof alternative."