Frequently Asked QuestionsWhy did Dura Vermeer decide to start the ‘Ohé en Laak’ project?
Water-resistant building reflects Dura Vermeer’s views on problems with water in the Netherlands, and the company also has experience in this respect. The Maasterp recreational park in Ohé en Laak is part of one of the areas designated by the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment for experimenting in this type of building. These areas are known as “EMAB” locations (experimental modified building locations).
What’s so special about an “EMAB” location?
These are areas which at the end of 2005 the Ministry of Housing designated for experimenting with modified building in riverbeds outside the dykes. This means that water-resistant buildings must be constructed in these areas, which may not impede the river’s natural current or any future regulations governing the river. The Ohé en Laak Meuse Villas fulfil all these requirements.
Why did it take so long to start developing this “EMAB” location?
The “Room for the River” policy was drawn up in 1997 following flooding along the River Meuse in 1995. This policy imposed stringent restrictions on construction activities in the riverbed. However, this attitude has since changed and development is now permitted on condition that it does not impede the course of the river now or in the future, #that measures are taken to make buying a larger house profitable#, and that this development fulfils all the safety requirements. Besides EMAB, the current policy in force is the Large Rivers Policy. As building in the riverbed is now allowed under certain conditions, developing the project required additional time and coordination.
Is Dura Vermeer involved at any other “EMAB” locations?
Ohé en Laak is the only location at the present moment.
Will any other “EMAB” locations be developed in the near future?
There are several “EMAB” locations currently under development, although Dura Vermeer is not involved in these. However, Ohé en Laak is a project at the forefront of developments, and it’s the first project where building has actually started.
What permits were required for this project?
The appropriate permits in compliance with the Public Works (Management of Engineering Structures) Act, recommendations from COBO-Maas (Meuse Building Authority), the Water Board Permits Bye-law, and all spatial planning procedures.
Is this Dura Vermeer’s first “EMAB” project?
No, Ohé en Laak is our fifth ‘Building on the Water’ project. Our other projects are floating and amphibian homes in Maasbommel, the floating greenhouse in Naaldwijk, the floating pavilion in Rotterdam and a floating island for birds on the Maasvlakte in Rotterdam.
What’s the main difference between this project and the floating and amphibian homes in Maasbommel?
The design is different. At Ohé en Laak, residents will live in the concrete floating barge, while at Maasbommel the floating barge is used as storage space. And the Ohé en Laak homes are situated at a much greater depth in the lake. There is a maximum of 2 metres’ difference in water level at Maasbommel, while the difference in water level at Ohé en Laak is at least 2 metres every year, and 8 metres in extreme cases. The amphibian homes will detach themselves from their foundations in such cases.
What features are the same as in Maasbommel?
The principle for the floating homes is the same at both locations: floating barges and timber-framed constructions.
What do the floating homes comprise?
The concrete structure of the Meuse Villas measures 60 m2. The villas are two-storied with a balcony measuring 10 m2. The concrete barge contains 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, and the living room, kitchen and adjacent balcony are on the top floor.
Why are you building in phases instead of constructing all 32 homes at the same time?
The homes have to be constructed on the riverbank so that building materials can be delivered in the normal way. In view of the available space, it isn’t possible to build all the homes at the same time. And lastly, building the homes is linked to sale.
How long does it take to build one of these homes?
About 8 months.
Do your building activities inconvenience local residents?
Hardly at all. If building is carried out during the winter, there aren’t many people at the marina anyway.
What are the technical aspects of constructing floating and amphibian homes?
The amphibian homes are built on a foundation of concrete floating barges anchored to mooring piles. This allows them to move up and down depending on the water level. The homes are supported by a pile foundation at low tide. They are constructed on a timber frame in order to ensure that they weigh as little as possible. The homes are anchored to flexible mooring piles in such a way as to absorb the effect of any waves and prevent the homes from drifting away. The floating homes are permanently afloat, but the amphibian homes only start floating at high tide, and are supported by pile foundations at low tide.
What about the concrete floating barges? Are these built on site, or are they prefabricated?
They’re built on site.
Is there a big risk of flooding at Ohé en Laak and the amphibian homes starting to float?
The difference in water level at Ohé en Laak is at least 2 metres every year, and up to 8 metres in extreme cases. The amphibian homes will detach themselves from the foundations in such cases. This may occur several times a year.
Why did you decide to use concrete floating barges instead of a product like Flexbase (polystyrene foam and concrete) which you’ve developed yourselves?
This is because we wanted to build the homes with the bedrooms and bathrooms in the basement. Besides, building a home on Flexbase is an entirely different concept. And it’s cheaper to use a concrete floating barge for solitary floating homes too.
What about facilities like sewers, electricity, etc.?
All connections with the riverbank such as electricity, cables, telephone, sewers and other infrastructure have been installed in a flexible manner to ensure that they can cope with big differences in the water level. The cabling is bundled on a spool which automatically unrolls the cables and rolls them up again. And each home is equipped with its own small sewage pumping station, which ensures that sewage can still be discharged at high tide.
What water level can the Meuse Villas rise to?
The villas are easily able to cope with a difference in water level of up to 8 metres.
What measures have been taken to ensure residents’ safety?
Eldorado Parken, which is responsible for managing the villas, will provide all residents with a special residents’ manual and protocols.
Have you ever noticed the homes in Maasbommel rising?
Yes, definitely, that happened during the severe floods last year.
What kind of construction and architecture do the villas have?
The villas are constructed on a timber frame in order to ensure that they weigh as little as possible.