New Foundations

Part of the Climate Change exhibition.

The Issue: Living in Floodplains

Low-lying regions, especially those below sea level, face a major long-term risk: entire communities could flood if sea level rises.

The Strategy: Floating Houses

The Netherlands is expecting more frequent flooding as the climate changes. But instead of evacuating when rivers overflow and the sea encroaches, some Dutch residents can now relax in houses designed to float.

The Dutch are no strangers to flooding. Much of the Netherlands lies below sea level. Their world-famous dikes hold back the North Sea waters and keep rivers from washing out towns—most of the time. A 1953 flood killed nearly 2,000 people, and a 1995 storm washed out several towns, but 250,000 people were evacuated safely. To reduce risk, a Dutch engineering firm has created amphibious abodes: houses that sit on land but float like houseboats if water rises. This new wave of construction could provide a blueprint for future floating cities.