These Floating Villages Provide a Solution for a Sinking Nation

Marcin Kitala’s “Rikki” offers an innovative and resilient solution to the vulnerable Kiribati.

Nathan Bahadursingh Nathan Bahadursingh

Do you have a compelling project that responds to global issues, shifts in technology and our evolving society? Considering entering it in the Concept Categories for the 8th Annual A+Awards, open for entries until May 8th, 2020.

Kiribati is a small, isolated nation, comprising 33 islands located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Its breathtaking, tropical scenery is matched by its incredibly low-lying landscape, in which the highest point on many of the islands is just a few feet above sea level.

Rising ocean waters due to climate change have placed Kiribati under immense pressure. The country’s land area is being depleted and is under threat of increased storm damage, the destruction of crop-growing lands, and ultimately the displacement of its people.


Communities in Kiribati have been isolated by salt water from sea incursions and storm surges; Photo by Mike Bowers/ The Gaurdian

In response to this grave predicament, Young Architects Competitions (YAC) launched the “Kiribati Floating Houses” competition. According to YAC: “Kiribati Floating Houses is the competition aiming to give a future to the populations of Kiribati.”

The challenge tasked architects and designers to create a new dwelling model that addresses sea level rise. The results of the competition have recently been announced, with the first prize being awarded to Marcin Kitala for his “Rikki” proposal. “Rikki” is a Gilbertese (the native language of Kiribati) word for “change of weather over many days”.

A new village concept for Kiribati

The project comprises a system of pentagonal-shaped platforms, which can be easily connected or disconnected. According to Designboom, the modules have an overall area of 4,300 square meters (46,000 square feet), with each side of the platform measuring 50 meters.

The project aims to avoid a high density of buildings in order to preserve the current nature of Kiribati buildings, which are low-rising and amongst abundant greenery. Each platform will accommodate up to 30 inhabitants across up to 5 houses. 

Each floating platform will be able to freely connect and disconnect

Behind every house is a green area that includes a backyard greenhouse, water purification system, vegetable garden and solar panels. This is intended to provide families with the necessary tools to be self-sufficient.

The houses will vary in size and provide the necessary resources to sustain their inhabitants


Detail of the floating villages; images courtesy of Marcin Kitala

As one of the most fragile and at-risk places on the planet, Kiribati’s future will depend heavily on innovative design to mitigate the effects of climate change. Marcin Kitala’s “Rikki”, which is a Gilbertese (the native language of Kiribati) word for “change of weather over many days”, provides a thoughtful, inventive approach to ensuring a sustainable future for Kiribati.

Do you have a compelling project that responds to the climate crisis and our evolving world? Consider entering it in the Architecture +Climate Change, Architecture +Sustainability or Architecture +Water categories for the 8th Annual A+Awards.