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Inside the International Architecture Practice Building the World’s Largest Floating Office


Gifted by the city, the building merges business and pleasure. 

“For us, sustainability also means creating something that people love,” says Nanne de Ru, a founding partner of the international architecture practice Powerhouse Company. “Beautiful things will be reused.” Those ideals are now on full display in Rotterdam’s Rijnhaven port, where the firm’s new project, billed as the world’s largest floating office, is docked. Dubbed A Vessel for Change, the building was conceived in collaboration with the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA), an institute founded by the Netherlands government to research how cities can adapt to climate change as well as implement and accelerate those innovations. “We rose to the challenge and designed and developed this unique concept, making it circular, energy positive, and carbon-negative,” notes Ru. The 48,438-square-foot office (home to the GCA) can be deconstructed and relocated, traveling by waterway from site to site. In the event of a flood it will rise with the water, adapting to the changing planet. Prefabricated timber and standardized joints, meanwhile, increase ease of construction. “We had to deal with the right kind of floating foundation,” recalls Ru, who explains that the concrete pontoon was not only durable but also thermal 2 efficient, with water cooling the building in summer and helping to heat it in winter. The building is also a crowd-pleaser, with a communal restaurant and a swimming pool. Talk about making a splash. 


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