Demoday #24: Energy in Floating Urban Development

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Our network decided earlier this year to explore the possibilities of floating urban development. The Netherlands is known for its water management, with impressive projects like the Delta Works and the reclamation of Flevoland. But our innovation in water management doesn't have to stop there. The pressure on space in the Netherlands is increasing, and we want to achieve a lot with the limited space we have. This includes generating sustainable energy, agriculture, and building 100,000 homes per year. Can we better utilize the space on the water? This report takes you through the workshop on energy provisions in floating districts.

We started with a presentation about the project by the City of Amsterdam. Then, we divided into pairs to work on these dilemmas. We were encouraged to visualize our ideas as much as possible, which resulted in interesting and useful drawings.


In this workshop, Bianca Bodewes and Sije Kloppenburg from the City of Amsterdam guided us through their research on a floating district with 1,500 units. These units are largely intended for housing, while the other part will be used for amenities. This ambitious project brings some dilemmas with it.


Should the floating district have high density (units close together) or low density (units spread out)? High density promotes social cohesion, reduces the need for amenities, improves mobility, and encourages a mix of social, economic, and cultural groups. On the other hand, low density has a smaller ecological impact and insures peace for inhabitants.

Position of Amenities

The second dilemma was the positioning of amenities. Where do you place these in a floating district? One option is a large central area in the middle of the district. The group also came up with an interesting idea of a long 'central' area in the middle, making this shopping street easily accessible from many locations. Another idea was a ring structure with housing in the center and amenities on the outer edge.


How do you handle energy storage? If you want a fully flexible district, you can't use a Thermal Energy Storage (TES) system, and the heat pump has to run year-round. If you want to store energy, you need to be connected to a static system. The group came up with a middle ground: one shared TES for multiple units, with flexible connections to it.


The last dilemma was about stacking: do you build multiple floors or choose single-story units? High-rise buildings reduce the available roof space per unit, limiting the potential for solar energy generation. On the other hand, shared heating in high-rise buildings reduces energy loss.


As you can see, there are many aspects to consider when developing floating districts. The workshop provided valuable insights, and it was fascinating to brainstorm on this topic. Each group visualized their ideas, and interestingly, everyone came up with a similar concept: a ring structure with a residential area in the center. We look forward to the next session on this topic.

The information from this brainstorming session will be further incorporated into the exploration of this project. The first step will be to write a technical requirements list. This will require making decisions on the above (and likely many more) dilemmas.