Water Shore Habitat

© David Garcia Studio


Project by David Garcia Studio awarded First Prize in the International Unesco Delta City of the Future competition


The Netherlands is in danger of being covered by water due to sea level rise, river discharge, rainfall and ground water levels. The proposal by David Garcia Studio, winner of the First Prize in the UNESCO Delta City of the Future competition, plans for the worst case scenario, while offering solutions for the short and medium term.


The Netherlands, and by extension Rotterdam, is in danger of being covered by water due to multiple causes: sea level rise, river discharge, rainfall and ground water levels. If this is to be a serious undertaking, one must plan for the worst case scenario, that major sea coverage in the distant future can be a reality. The heightening of dikes or the raising of land with sea sand is inflexible and, per definition, bound to be covered at some time. We propose planning for the worst case scenario, while offering solutions for the short and medium term. These solutions are aimed at the new residents of the harbour area as well as the community of Rotterdam and beyond.

The industrial harbour area is topologically transformed to engage with the water environment. Instead of negating it’s surroundings, it embraces it, by allowing water ponds to show the current water level and take extra water in during serious flooding. This
works as a dynamic landscape and as a visual flood alarm.

Taking advantage of the shipping culture in the harbour, and the innovation and design centres on site, the technology and know-how is invested in the construction of elevated housing and working units, these structures are raised to be able to cope with up to 8 meters of flooding. Crowned by cranes, they are able to gather emergency living units in case of extreme scenarios.

By using traditional barges or FLEX FLOAT systems, floating services surround the shore and offers parks, recreation, sport activities, energy systems or even agricultural /greenhouse vegetable production. Due to their mobility, they can be exported, rented or sold to other harbours, but more importantly, they can be reshuffled locally to cater to special events, such as the Olympics or mergence scenarios. As a collective, they allow for new urban cores to grow in the harbour with a close understanding of the dynamics of the riverbed, while offering the know-how to the local community and abroad.


The Netherlands from mild flooding to worst case scenario
© David Garcia Studio



Existing environment
© David Garcia Studio

Shoreline is 5 times longer than the quays, offering extensive water contact
© David Garcia Studio

Static cores offer housing and work space
© David Garcia Studio

Floating plug-in units can move according to demand, in Rotterdam or beyond
© David Garcia Studio



The landscape embraces the medium it lives in, by offering pools which show the existing water level
© David Garcia Studio

If the water level rises, the pools take in some of the water while becoming a silent signal of the change
© David Garcia Studio

Connection to the housing and work units is always maintained by a raised landscape well above the norm
© David Garcia Studio

In case of major flooding, they become islands of their own, offering emergency platforms and access to the plug-in units
© David Garcia Studio



© David Garcia Studio

Habitual environment, plug-in services are varied, and offer cultural, sport and recreation services as well as energy and production platforms (left); In extreme situations, such as flooding, the platforms can focus on energy and emergency services (middle); Eventual major events can gather monothematic platforms, for example, a major sporting event like the Olympic Games (right)
© David Garcia Studio



© David Garcia Studio


David Garcia Studio is an experimental architectural platform which tests new methods and processes at all scales. Collaborating with architects, designers, artists and engineers, the studio works with an “open door” philosophy, where objectives and partnerships are established from project to project.
www.davidgarciastudio.com | @davidstudio

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