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Architecture firm ‘Powerhouse’ creates world’s first floating office in Netherlands

Award-winning architecture firm, Powerhouse Company, has set a new milestone in sustainable infrastructure with their latest creation, a floating office in Rotterdam, Netherlands, for the Global Center on Adaptation that is carbon-neutral and functions off-grid. The office sources energy from rooftop solar panels and uses recyclable timber. Developed by RED Company, the three-storey office is designed to be one of the most sustainable offices in the world and is already the largest floating office worldwide.

The project, located in Rotterdam’s Rijnhaven harbor, is also designed to adapt to rising sea levels. Rotterdam, the second-largest Dutch city, is known for being an innovator in climate adaptability. In 2019, Rotterdam was home to the first floating dairy farm in the world.

Known as the Floating Office Rotterdam (FOR), the structure measures 3,606 sq. m (roughly 38,800 sq. ft) and consists of three floors topped by a large terrace area. Its green roof stores and absorbs rainwater, hence filtering it and decreasing stress on urban sewer systems, and the upper floors have overhanging balconies which help shade the interior. A battery-powered 800 sq. m long solar panel array provides electricity for the entire building. The framework is made from sustainably sourced European timber to reduce carbon footprint as well as to ensure that at the end of its life, the construction can easily be disassembled and reused. It rests on top of 15 concrete pontoons which create a solid floating base as they are anchored together. The floating office uses the harbor water as a heat sink to provide efficient heating and cooling and hence is entirely self-sufficient. FOR is both “fun and functional” as it also features public facilities such as a restaurant with a large outdoor terrace and a swimming pool.

Developed by RED Company, the three-storey office is designed to be one of the most sustainable offices in the world

“We have designed the building to be climate-resilient, so it will float if sea levels rise due to climate change,” says Powerhouse Company. “This office is both an illustration of the center’s mission and an example of how to build sustainable floating structures.” 

Inaugurated on September 6, 2021, by King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the office is the headquarters for the Global Center on Adaptation, chaired by Ki-Moon. Additionally, it houses the ABN Amro bank, RED Company, and designer Powerhouse Company itself. 

The structure is expected to remain in place for ten years, after which it may be moved to another location or may house other tenants.

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