City Apps: Improving wetslum livability with floating services
PhD research conducted by Koen Olthuis at TU Delft and IHE, Delft, Netherlands
Wetslums, informal settlements near water, lack basic services, and face flood risks, with climate change exacerbating the situation. A research project investigated the potential of floating services to improve their living conditions, identifying the need for policymakers to accept slum permanency, integrate local knowledge, and update databases. The research highlights the potential of floating technology to provide basic services and improve living conditions.
Living in wetslums, informal settlements near water bodies, is challenging due to the lack of basic services, exposure to flood risks, and the absence of long-term solutions. Upgrading projects dedicated to improving the living conditions in these areas often face numerous obstacles such as lack of resources and space, temporary and illegal settlements, and the disregard for the heterogeneous nature of these areas. Moreover, climate change effects and rising sea levels further aggravate the situation for wetslum dwellers.
To address these challenges, the research project explored the potential of floating services to improve the living conditions of wetslum dwellers. The research involved three phases, including analyzing 88 upgrading projects, developing and testing a design proposition using floating technology, and understanding the governance and implementation of these proposals in locations like Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Alexandria, Egypt.
The Floating City App concept and its toolbox of 10 variations emerged as the main outcome of the research. The concept aimed to provide flexible and adaptable solutions to the dynamic and diverse nature of wetslums. One of the variations, focusing on education and communication, was built and tested in Dhaka and Alexandria. The research identified the need for policymakers to accept the permanency of slums, update databases about slums and slum upgrading, and integrate local knowledge in the design of these apps to improve their receptivity and reduce costs.
Overall, this research highlights the potential of floating technology to provide basic services in flood-prone areas and improve the living conditions of wetslum dwellers.