Walking on water - a unique solution to create urban space

Floating islands can provide pleasure, leisure and parking to improve life in crowded cities

Did you know that water accounts for around 70 % of the total surface area of our planet? As the population rises, is it possible that water could provide much-needed space to improve city environments?
This is exactly the question we have been asking as part of a collaborative venture between our own John Kraus, who is an award-winning structural engineer, Han van den Born from KCAP Architects&Planners, and Marco Huibrechtse, specialist in developing sustainable car parks.

The answer we have reached is a clear ‘Yes’.

Emergo Islands
Together we have developed a unique concept called Emergo Islands. Fully buoyant, the islands provide space in harbours, lakes or rivers to meet local needs for amenities and facilities. They solve pressing urban issues such as parking, while at the same time enriching the lives of the inhabitants and boosting the local economy.

“Water is used as the foundation for the island and supports a very cost-effective flooring system,” said Marco Huibrechtse. “The structure is largely composed of polystyrene set in a firm concrete grid which makes it ultra lightweight.”

Inspired by projects such as the High Line in New York and the Promenade Plantée in Paris, green parkland is an integral feature of the island concept. In addition, we are able to respond to the needs of the local community by including facilities such as a skating rink, swimming pool, athletics track or open air theatre.

An urban icon which solves long-term parking problems
“It is important that there is a connection between the functions so the island solves long term parking problems, adds green space and makes a splendid urban icon,” explained Han van den Born “The key is connecting with the neighbourhoods to ensure that it is a positive development for the community.”

“The construction is designed to achieve the highest standards of sustainability,” adds John Kraus. “It will be energy and carbon neutral. Equally it can be expanded or reduced in size as needs change. It is even possible to move the structure to a new location.”

Plans have already been drawn up for an Emergo Island (or floating island). Another project is under discussion in Cape Town. The cost and benefits the islands bring make them appealing for fast-growing cities across the world, and particularly in Asia.

More than simply a highly innovative solution to the shortage of space, these islands can make cities a better place to live.