the civil engineering

What is a Floating Building? : 7 Pros and Cons of Floating Buildings


A floating building is a structure designed with a floatation system at its base. It is transported to its chosen location by ship.

Buildings supported by pillars are not floating buildings.

floating buildings


Floating buildings rest entirely on the water and float due to the buoyant force (upthrust). They are like a ship converted into a house, whose moment is controlled by the help of anchors.

floating buildings

✔ Floating building works based on the Archimedes Principle. 

✔ Due to the rapid melting of icebergs, glaciers, and ice at the poles, the sea level worldwide is increasing rapidly. This is causing the drowning of many islands and cities lying on the sea bank.

Palm Jumeirah (UAE), New York City (USA), and the Maldives are examples of places predicted to suffer from drowning due to rising sea levels.

Floating buildings may be the best solution to tackle the problem of drowning.

Read Also: 15+ Engineering Drawing Instruments With Images.



1. Criteria To Be a Floating Building  

The building should meet this criteria to be a floating building:

a. The building should be floating entirely due to the force of buoyancy ( upthrust ).

This means pillars should not be used to transfer building loads to the ground. The load should be completely transferred to water, not soil.


✔ Floating buildings are based on the principle of buoyancy suggested by Archimedes.

So, the structure’s base should be developed to help in floating and transferring the dead and live loads of the structure to water with a displacement of water, which makes a buoyant force to carry building loads.



2. Floating Buildings  For Future 

With the increase in sea level, our problems will also rise. So, to tackle such issues, we can use floating buildings.


Let’s understand with an example: 

Suppose you own land on a Maldives sea beach and construct a floating building there. Then, the sea level will rise after a few years, sinking the land and other buildings. But you are safe. Either the sea level increases by 0.5 m or 1 m, you will be floating on water.


This may sound impractical, but NASA conducted a study and found that sea levels rise by 3.4 mm annually.

I have given the example of Maldives because it is expected that 80% of the land of Maldives will sink by 2050, according to Wikipedia.



3. Pros and Cons of Floating Buildings  


Pros of Floating Buildings  

The pros of the floating buildings are as follows:


a. Easy & Cheap to Transport

✔ Transporting floating buildings from one place to another is relatively easy and cheap.


b. Fast Construction

✔ Most parts of the floating buildings are constructed with steel, wood, and prefabricated technologies. This boosts the speed of construction.

✔ Building floating structures takes only half the time compared to constructing conventional buildings.


c. Decrease in Deforestation

✔ As water space is used in place of land, this indirectly decreases the rate of deforestation.


d. Less Disturbance in Ecosystem

✔ Floating buildings indirectly preserve forests and protect animals, birds, etc. This helps to maintain the proper ecological cycle.


e. Good Aesthetic Appearance

✔ The aesthetic appearance of floating buildings is very pleasing compared to traditional buildings.


f. Safe from Earthquakes

✔ Water under the floating buildings acts as a seismic damper, so these buildings are safe from earthquakes. ( But the risk from Tsunamis is high)



Cons of Floating Buildings

The Cons of the floating buildings are as follows:


a. Risky at a location where climate changes rapidly

✔ Constructing floating buildings at locations where climate changes rapidly are not suitable.

✔ Due to climate changes, the depth of water bodies may increase or decrease drastically, leading to huge problems.


b. Increase in maintenance

✔ Maintenance requirements in floating buildings are relatively high compared to conventional ones.

✔ Maintenance work should be mainly carried out before the rainy season.


c. Less service life

✔ Compared to buildings on the land, the life of floating buildings is relatively little.


d. High risk of water pollution

✔ The problem of water pollution is the main con of floating buildings as wastes are directly disposed of in water bodies.


e. High risk from Tsunamis

✔ High waves and tsunamis are big problems for floating buildings.


f. Requirement of Skill Manpower

✔ It is pretty hard to maintain the center of gravity and buoyancy. So, skilled manpower is required to construct floating buildings.


g. Limitation in Height

✔ The height of floating buildings is limited to tackle problems such as wind force, water force, the center of gravity, buoyancy, etc.

✔ High height may result in the overturning of the building.


Written By Er. Madhu Krishna Poudel
Verified By Er. Surakchya Gynawali
The Civil Engineering
Latest Articles
Related Articles