As floods are increasingly affecting people all over the world the IFRC in partnership with Zurich insurance and Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) organised the first Flood Resilience Innovation Conference. One of the fascinating projects showcased in the conference featured Don Kamarga, a civil engineer who co-developed eco-friendly floating construction techniques to help communities be resilient to subsidence.

Floating structures have a long-lasting tradition in Indonesia, Mr Kamarga was working for a Subsidiary construction material manufacturer while performing his duties, he realised that some regions in Indonesia exposed to 15-20cm land subsidence per year causing many people to rebuilt their houses every 5 years. When seeking a potential solution to this problem, he saw a connection with an unusual material for construction, the Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), which can be used in larger scales for crafting floating buildings.

A picture of the floating library from the inside.

This place is where local kids gather together and read awesome stories.

Don and a group of partners presented the idea of prototyping the new technique to the Public Housing Ministry. In 2016 the first floating library was created with the help of locals in Tambak Lorok, Semarang. As a complementary fact, 30% of the structure was crafted with recycling plastic waste from the Bandung district, helping the reduction of inorganic garbage in the river, which is one of the main responsible for causing floods across the country.

Other prototypes of this project included the new town hall, a floating restaurant, bridge and art gallery. These resilient structures are helping locals to preserve common spaces and tackle two major issues with one single idea; building edifications that can last over 30 years avoiding reconstruction due to land subsidence and supporting cultural activities with never-seen-before spaces in the village because of the high-maintenance costs.

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