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Adapting to Rising Sea Levels: The Case for Floating Timber Homes

Kevin Hill is a worldly man who harbours a love for the ocean, architecture, and of course timber.


Mon 27 Mar 23

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I recently covered Mr Hill and his quest to use his knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm to address some of the most pressing global issues, such as the impact of rising sea levels, climate change, deforestation, and affordable housing in a recent article for ABC Carbon Express.

For 30 years Mr Hill has been working on multiple fronts and was a pioneer in introducing sustainable timber construction including Mass Engineered Timber (MET), Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and Glue Laminated Timber (Glulam) to Singapore.

His Venturer Timberwork brand has made a name for itself, especially in the Maldives and the Caribbean – including the Skyspace installation, covered in my ‘Zero Carbon Ready’ contribution for Wood Central.

Introducing the ‘Skyspace’ – which includes a 400 sqm free span roof with razor-sharp soffits and a 16-sq-m hole in its middle, which presented a challenge. It was judged that timber would weather the corrosive marine environment better than steel. (Photo credit: Global Construction Review).

One such concept is the Nautilus Water Suites –waterborne living spaces which could replicate and replace luxury villas in areas that are subject to rising sea levels.

Introducing Nautilus Water Suites: Floating Residences for a Changing World

Designed to be stable, spacious, and versatile residences, the concept responses to the need for alternative living spaces that can withstand the impact of rising sea levels.

In 2022, Venturer launched the groundbreaking Nautilus Water Suites – a concept that is neither villa nor vessel but combines both. And it is ideally suited to meet the needs of rising sea levels.

The specs for the project are available through a dedicated website. (Image courtesy of the Nautilus website).

A collaboration between Venturer and Bison, a well-established contracting company in the Maldives, the pilot project is promising with work now underway to turn the pilot into a housing development for the islands.

An alternative to the traditional yachts – crafts that are stable, spacious, yet versatile – the project could provide a much-needed life raft for the island chains, an area strongly impacted by rising sea levels.

According to ABC News, if the Indian Ocean maintains its current rate of increase, in 40 years, it will rise between 8 and 12 inches, and by 2100, 8 out of the 10 main islands that make up the Maldives will be submerged in the sea forever.

Scientists say 80% of the Maldives could be uninhabitable by 2050. In 2021 ABC News’ Ginger Zee travels to the Maldives, where rising sea levels could potentially wipe the island nation off the map. Footage courtesy of @ABCNews.
Expanding into Developing Countries with the “V2” Building Concept.

Mr Hill’s latest venture is even more ambitious – the “V2 Building Concept.”

“V2” is Venturer’s latest componentized building system, and it could become a viable solution for climate change on land and over water.

Based in Chennai India, the goal is to create lightweight structures using locally grown plantation hardwood timbers, engineered together in a process akin to Cross Laminated Timber (CLT).

Not only are the timbers sustainably sourced and have low embodied carbon but they must meet industry standards and maximise efficiency in production.

In talks with NGO’s to meet future housing affordability needs.

Mr. Hill is exploring the possibility of using the “V2” building concept to address housing needs in developing countries – and is now in talks with NGO’s focused on housing affordability.

By replacing traditional building materials like concrete and steel with wood, Mr. Hill believes that emissions could be reduced by up to 69%. Additionally, the increased use of wood in new urban constructions globally could help achieve 9% of 2030 emissions goals.

Last week, the IPCC issued a ‘final warning’ before global warming (and rising sea levels) reach a point of no return. Footage courtesy of @abcnewsaustralia

Over the past two decades, Mr. Hill has witnessed the emergence of innovative digital construction solutions making timber a relevant material for modern construction markets and a viable solution for various global challenges.

“Together these have made timber highly relevant for today’s sophisticated construction markets, as well as the means to meet a number of global challenges,” he says.

  • Originally produced by Ken Hickson for ABC Carbon Express in March 2022. We will provide updates on Kevin Hill and Venturer projects from time to time.

Author

  • Ken Hickson

    Ken Hickson is a journalist/editor/author with 60 years' experience in Media in Asia Pacific, with a strong focus on sustainable forestry, mass engineered timber, and drawing attention to deforestation, illegal logging, and out of control forest fires. He is also a Wood Central Southeast Asia contributor.

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