In the Rijnhaven in Rotterdam, a new, eye-catching structure has been erected: a complex consisting of three floating half-spheres. The structure is 12 metres tall, with a total floor area the size of four tennis courts, and is fully relocatable.
The floating pavilion is remarkable not only because of the spheres floating on the water, but also because of its climate-proof, innovative, sustainable and flexible qualities. The floating pavilion is a pilot and a catalyst for floating construction in Rotterdam. The pavilion consists of three connected spheres, the largest of which has a radius of 12 meters. The floor area of the pavilion island is over 46 by 24 meters. It will be moored in the Rijnhaven until 2015: after that, it will be shipped off to another part of Stadshavens. The Rijnhaven is a suitable location for the pavilion due to the limited beating of the waves. Furthermore, fewer and fewer inland vessels will use the harbour. Moreover, the Rijnhaven is easily accessible by public transport, also over water.
The innovative pavilion responds to the objectives of Rotterdam to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas CO2 by 50% and to ensure that the city remains climate-proof also in the future.
The round canopy, built by Dura Vermeer, is made up of dozens of hexagonal panels made of corrosion-resistant ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) plastic, which is 100 times lighter than glass. The weight savings from the ETFE allowed the designers to reduce the materials needed for the buoyant foundation, which is only about 7 feet thick and made of sandwiched expanded polystyrene sheets and concrete slabs.
Rotterdam plans to build floating urban districts. The blueprint calls for 13,000 climate-proof houses in the Stadshavens area by 2040 – of which around 1,200 would be built on top of the water. People will live, shop, work and recreate on the water.
The floating body has been constructed using expanded polystyrene sheets (EPS). Five layers of EPS are placed on top of each other, the thinnest layer measuring 20 centimetres in thickness, and the thickest 75 centimetres. The thickest layer contains a grid of concrete beams, which is fastened to the prefab concrete slabs. These slabs form the hard shell of the island, protecting it against the beating of the waves, for instance. Placed on top of this, a 20 centimetre thick concrete floor, together with the beams, renders the island a rigid unit. The thickness of the island is 2.25 metres. The top of the floor is about 80 centimetres above the water level.