England's First Floating Village Coming Soon To East London

England's First Floating Village Coming Soon To East London

Faced with rising sea levels, would you consider a move onto the water? Soon, a community of Londoners will have exactly that option. DRMM Architects has won the Royal Docks competition to design England's first floating village. London Mayor Boris Johnson revealed a consortium including Carillion Igloo Genesis and Buro Happold who will together transform 60 thousand square meters of water just east of the Emirates Airline.

Floating villages are a new idea for the UK, but already popular in Europe, especially in Holland where designers have long considered sea levels in relation to housing and city planning. The Royal Docks scheme borrows expertise developed at the floating prefab village of Ijburg near Amsterdam. In Scotland two schemes are already planned, including a solar powered floating community for Edinburgh and a £30 million development directly adjacent to the Glasgow Science Center.

The water site at the Royal Victoria Dock, just east of the Emirates Airline, will be transformed into a community with 50 custom-built homes, plus restaurants, bars and offices.

There will also be a blue-water square framed by a market square, a floating cornice and an events space. Plans for additional facilities, such as a lido and ice rink, were also proposed as part of the bid.

The winning scheme will be 100% floating with the walkways, residential and non-residential units anchored in place using a series of piles located within the dock and connected to the dock by bridges.

Future inhabitants will be able to play a part in the design of their property. Chris Brown, director of Carillion Igloo Genesis said: "Living in a floating home you've helped to design is a dream lots of us have. By combining the floating home experience of our Dutch collaborators with our custom built business we hope to make these dreams come true in Royal Victoria Dock... East London's place on the tourist trail is growing fast. It's about to be joined by Europe's largest floating village, with floating markets, creative workspace, events and watersports."

Alex de Rijke of DRMM recently presented his studies on floating villages to the Venice architecture biennale. The prefabricated floating water-homes will use the same type of concrete foundations that are already in use at the Ijburg development in Holland. The construction of the homes - including the bases - will be carried out off-site and then transported by water to site.

The scheme is due to enter the formal planning process with Newham council in Spring 2015, and it is expected to address the need for affordable housing to avoid opposition from local authorities and residents.