The floating markets of Thailand may well be the inspiration for a new generation of floating buildings being designed and built around the world.
Parts of Bangkok are at risk of getting submerged permanently in the next 30 years because due to land subsidence coupled with rising sea level, said Associate Professor Vichitbusaba Marom, a town planning expert at Thammasat University. She pointed out that sea level has been rising at an average of 5 mm annually while land in Bangkok has been subsiding at an average of 2-28 mm a year with the western side of the Chao Phraya river subsiding at more than 10 mm annually compared to an average of 15 mm on the eastern side.
Land subsidence in industrial areas is faster, averaging 30 mm a year, said the professor, adding that this means, in the next 30 years, parts of Bangkok will be under water. She pointed out that another factor contributing to greater risk of flooding is rain and water runoff from the north and quick urban development such as construction of buildings that block the natural flow of water. Sea level rise and flooding rivers due to global warming and deforestation cause problems in several Asian, SouthAmerican and European countries.
Floating constructions protect people and workers in high risk areas, allowing durable, sustainable development of vulnerable natural areas at the same time. For European countries several floating constructions have been designed such as floating buildings in Amsterdam, a Yacht hotel and a semi floating apartment, where a special hydraulic system stabilises the position of the house during storm, waves and water tides, assuring a comfortable living without any ship-like behaviour of the house.
Floating constructions are also applicable for expanding cities such as Oslo or tourist resorts in Sri Lanka, where a resort with prefab floating islands has been designed, causing no damage to the environment. In Thailand, Kanchanaburi has long taken advantage of floating buildings for hotel options on the river. Architects and engineers are now increasingly turning their attention to more modern designs for the future. Not only motivated by concerns about rising sea levels, but also faced with population growth and urban land shortages.