Building floating neighborhoods in Boston: Brian Healy at TEDxBoston

Above, renderings of Floatyard, a proposed floating housing complex in the Boston Harbor

After Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on communities on the United States’ East Coast, many concerns about the longevity and durability of coastline architecture came to rise. Fear of future extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and changing geography have made architects like TEDxBoston speaker Brian Healy re-think how they are looking at building near water.

At TEDxBoston, Healy spoke about his vision for creating a floating, residential neighborhood in the Boston Harbor, a plan he calls Floatyard.

Floatyard is imagined as a floating housing complex comprised of “three stories of living units [arranged] along the four sides of a central courtyard,” reports the Boston Globe. Units would come in different shapes and sizes, with the courtyard providing a communal space for residents, including a garden, playground, and meeting space. Shops and recreation would take up some of the first floor, while the roof plays host to gardens and solar panels. Additional energy for the complex would be harvested from the movement of the building in the surrounding tides.

In his talk at
TEDxBoston, Healy explains the Floatyard project and provides context for his plans. From his talk:

Water is essential to us: to our bodies, to the planet, to everything. And we naturally gravitate and want to live [by water]. But [Hurricane] Sandy reminded us of the challenges of living or investing along the coastline…We’re reminded by the predictions of the rising sea and the potential flooding [of coastal cities] that we need to re-think how we inhabit the coast…

What if [a building] floats?…We found technology in Europe, particularly in Holland and Germany: lightweight, concrete floating tubes that we could utilize…We got excited about the idea of thinking about new buildings being floated — shipped — up and down the coast…

For more on Floatyard and designing future cities, watch Healy’s entire talk below:

(Photos: Perkins + Will Architecture)

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