A floating house is very unusual and very beautiful. International experience in floating construction is rather extensive. Floating structures are under active construction in Singapore: a spectacular example is the Marina Bay Floating Platform. The floating hotel – The Good Hotel was erected in London on the River Thames. The United Arab Emirates surprised us with the project of The Floating Seahorse luxury villa.
We talked about the peculiar features and prospects of floating construction with the architect Stanislav Zhuikov, who is successfully engaged in the development of floating architecture in Russia.
- Stanislav, when did you become engrossed in floating design and construction?
— I can say, it was a matter of chance. I graduated from South Ural State University in Chelyabinsk, majoring in architecture. After a while, I was invited to work in Moscow. Then, I founded Design and Construction company INZHTEKHSTROY, which allows me to embody my ideas and implement my independent architectural solutions.
When I learned that Magic Float Company focusing on floating design and construction was sourcing for an architect, I realized that it was my chance to work on unique projects in an innovative construction area.
- What mission area are you working on in Magic Float as the leading architect of the company?
- My key task is the development of new architectural, artistic and technological ways of arranging floating facilities. Working out solutions for the construction of reliable, functional and accessible floating structures, as well as searching for new application areas for the company’s products by developing a range of standard multi-purpose structures.
I’m engaged both in the development of conceptual solutions and engineering definition of projects jointly with the team of the company’s engineers. We build various floating facilities - from private floating structures to large-scale projects of floating quays, installations and infrastructure projects, such as floating bridges and crossing sites, floating gas stations and modular ferries.
- Floating construction is a complex technical task. Here you need to be not only an experienced architect but also an engineer. What architectural and engineering challenges do you face?
- Following the world-famous aphorism: “Architecture is strength, benefit and beauty”, at the design stage, we should first solve the problem of ensuring the physical safety of the structure. Any slightest miscalculation can lead to a complete loss of the facility. For example, we found a solution to the technical problem of water level fluctuations for fixed surface facilities in the installation of piles with an adjustable roller system, which allows the structure to automatically follow the water level.
It is also essential to select construction materials resistant to the aggressive aquatic environment. Here you need to think about the technical and technological aspects, as well as the economic expediency of using a particular technology.
Sustainability is another problem to be addressed. The environmental safety of the inhabitants of the facility and the environment is also one of the essential tasks.
Besides, we should ensure the self-sufficiency of the facility, provide for ways of heat and electric power generation, and equip the facility with an energy storage system.
And the finishing touch is the external and internal space arrangement. This is what determines the functional features of a structure, its ergonomic characteristics, and the level of physical and psychological comfort of a person inside the building.
- In your opinion, where can floating construction become popular In Russia (I do not mean infrastructural but primarily residential and private construction)?
- One of the promising areas is surely tourism. For example, we can build self-contained floating hotels – where ground construction is impossible due to land-use restrictions or the absence of free land for construction.
Recently, floating baths and spa complexes have been in demand. For example, I have already managed to work on a spa complex project for clients from Poland and Azerbaijan.
As for private construction, I would like to single out such a promising area as floating houses (houseboats). These can be both small seasonal floating dwellings for trips and leisure and comfortable two- and three-story structures for permanent residence.
The opportunity to live traveling without leaving the comfortable dwelling attracts more and more people. For example, in Europe, houseboats are very popular. This area is particularly developed in the Netherlands with a large number of channels. There are many examples of floating structures in England.
- I've heard a lot about the unique project of a floating villa you developed for a Canadian customer. What motivated the customer to choose such an unusual way of life?
— This is indeed a unique and ambitious project. The house is a floating structure with an area of 560 sq. m based on polymer modular floating dams assembled in several layers. The building is located around a small rocky island in such a way that it appears to be inside a living space – a piece of nature enclosed in a “frame” of semicircular walls. At the same time, this island serves as an important element of structural stability.
The villa is completely self-contained. It provides for a geothermal heating system, solar panels, its own winter and summer garden.
Now the project is at the stage of engineering definition, as well as solving legal construction and operation issues. The implementation of this project will allow its inhabitants to live far away from civilization in perfect harmony with nature while preserving the comfort of living.
- Tell us about the specific features of your other floating projects and achievements in floating architecture.
- I believe I’m lucky to work on a floating outlet project on the River Thames for an English investor. This is a 20 X 200 meter modular two-story floating structure consisting of four modules, which are multi-functional buildings.
I can also name the conceptual project for the arrangement of islands on the Moskva River to create a multifunctional business, recreational and tourist space. As planned, the two islands are built up with a floating structure, landscaped and turned into a picturesque park in the middle of the river.
There are also several projects to expand the embankments in Russian cities, which provide for a wider use of the water space and the development of the water, transport and business infrastructure.
In 2021, some of my projects were presented at the XXVI International Exhibition of Architecture and Design ARCH Moscow in Gostiny Dvor.
- Which architect has influenced you the most? Whose ideas are you inspired by?
- I’m emotionally charged by the ideas of the Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut. Most of all, I’m inspired by his conceptual projects Floating Ecopolis Lilypad and Floating manta ray-shaped ferry terminal for Seoul.
- What, in your opinion, is your value proposition, the uniqueness of your architectural approach?
- In short, I love experiments, my architectural style combines elements of modernism, hi-tech, parametric and green organic architecture. It seems to me that the combination of these styles allows me to create functional architecture with a bright artistic appearance.
- What are your short-term plans?
- To work on the development of floating architecture, to introduce new ideas and technologies. I am sure this area will be developed tremendously. It is already obvious that mankind cannot avoid a shortage of lands in urban areas – many countries already experience this shortage. There is no doubt that the problem will only aggravate over time. Today we talk a lot about the sustainable city model. This concept will provide for the development of new spaces suitable for life, first of at – above-water spaces.
I’m absolutely sure, tomorrow is with floating construction.
Interview by Elena MATSEYKO
Stanislav Zhuikov, architect, member of the Union of Architects of Russia. Graduated from South Ural State University majoring in architecture. Focuses on the design and construction of floating facilities. Founder and chief architect of PSK INZHTEKHSTROY, leading architect of Magic Float.
Stanislav also works in traditional architecture. His portfolio includes such projects as the project for the improvement of the central park in Zhukovsky, Moscow region; the project for the development of the Rehabilitation Center for People with Disabilities in Troitsk administrative district of Moscow; the project for the reconstruction of the hostel for Plekhanov Russian University of Economics in Moscow.