Article Title

Water and Land in Flux: Pedagogy for Design Innovations that Inhabit Water


The Float’n’rise design Studio encourages a paradigm shift in design by speculating how a partially submerged building can be designed along the Southern Louisiana coast. As the erosion and submersion of the terra firma continues, what might the future of a community’s existence look like? If the fact that the once-inhabitable ground slowly submerges is given, why not construct buildings designed to float on water in the first place? Instead of holding firm to past ground/water conditions, and only raise the building according to the hundred- year flood level principle, why not embrace a relationship with water as a new design opportunity? Located at the intersection of architecture, ecology, and advanced technology, this studio is a step forward in navigating the fraught/complex relationship between terra-firma/aqua-firma and its environmental settings by using advanced computational and fabrication techniques to rethink modes of habitation in the coastal areas of Southern Louisiana.

This paper first overviews the environmental conditions of Southern Louisiana region in general and New Orleans in particular; Then, a literature review of the existing research and practice in the field floating architecture is presented. Next, the specifics of the Float’n’rise design studio are introduced, followed by an overview of the employed CAD/CAM techniques throughout the process. Finally, students’ projects are presented, discussing how they met the pedagogical goals.

This paper finds that employing CAD/CAM methods facilitates exploring complex problems to offer innovative design solutions as well as to validate the feasibility of the proposed solutions. Focusing more on the material explorations using CAD/CAM techniques by making small scale prototypes that can actually be tested on water will be an interesting improvement to the studio if repeated. This can also highlight how the experiments translate into a prototype through the iterative design process.