The Netherlands’ Eternal Struggle With Nature

by Roland Shen, Summer Intern

Global climate change has had an unprecedented effect on sea levels over the past few decades. With increased melting of polar ice caps and glaciers around the world, sea levels have risen and will continue to rise, putting coastal regions worldwide at risk for submergence into the sea. While many are now beginning to research ways of combating land loss to water, one nation has been ahead of the trend for centuries now.


Ever since the Dutch founded their nation, their homes were under attack from the ever-rising tides. Nearly a third of the Netherlands lies below sea level, and while building dikes and pumps have been the preferred method for the Dutch to combat their water problem, the newest generation of Dutch architects have a better idea: building homes and structures that harmonize with sea levels.







Holland’s newest idea for a solution isn’t exactly revolutionary. Houseboats have been in use for centuries for those who could not afford to live on land. And while houseboats were a symbol of poverty a few centuries ago, they are now regarded as modern, attractive housing options for those looking towards the future of property ownership.








New development companies, such as Waterstudio, have built homes that rise and fall with water levels along with plans for larger floating structures. Their next project involves building towers, mosques, and even floating islands on the shores of Dubai which would globalize and revolutionize the idea of building structures only on land.






For those of us living along the California coastline, and especially along the Bay, the idea of an inevitable rising water level could cause some panic. Maybe not in our present state, but a few decades from now we could see tremendous land loss in the Bay Area along the peninsula. Despite the human habit of procrastination, it never hurts to plan ahead. Following the path of these Dutch visionaries, California can prepare for the future by planning, if not building, floating structures to prevent property loss in the future. This notion doesn’t only pertain to Californians but to coastal regions worldwide. Following the lead of the Dutch, rising sea levels will no longer be a problem for areas like Venice or the Maldives along with the other thousands of miles of coastline around the world.

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