Living and building by the water is traditionally thought to be a luxury only for the few. But it does not have to be the case. By changing the way we build it can become accessible to many more.

furthermore, recent years have demonstrated substantial population growth in urban areas and as the number of people moving to the cities increases, additional housing is needed to accommodate them.

And seeing that many cities in the world have no more land to build on, we have introduced a building typology optimized for harbour cities.

Urban Rigger consists of 9 container units in a circle, creating twelve 23-30 sqm studio residences which frame a centralized courtyard, all resting on a floating platform. Because the structure is buoyant, like a boat, it can be replicated in other harbour cities where real estate and affordable housing is needed, but space is limited.

When making use of the standard container system, we are offered the framework for an extremely flexible building typology that can be scaled up or down depending on current needs.

BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group

BIG is a Copenhagen, New York, London, and Barcelona based group of architects, designers, urbanists and landscape professionals, interior and product designers, researchers and inventors.

BIG’s architecture emerges out of a careful analysis of how contemporary life constantly evolves and changes. Not least due to the influence from multicultural exchange, global economic flows, and communication technologies, that all together require new ways of architectural and urban organization.

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A. The base is formed by an irregular hexagonal floating pontoon.

B. Then three containers are placed so that they form a screened courtyard, while at the same time  maintaining a lookout in the corners.

C. On top of the ground floor another floor with 6 containers is placed. In total, this provides space for 300m2 housing divided into 9 + 3 individual homes of between 23 and 30m2.

Two floors are above sea level and one – the hull – is below sea level.

From the central courtyard, equipped with bicycle racks, kayak dock, bathing platform and barbecue area, there is access to two sets of stairs, one leading to the lower floor below sea level and the other leading to the second residential floor.

The first floor is defined by three containers, placed in a triangular shape, with one apartment in each and on the second floor is nine 23 m2 apartments, compounded in groups of three inside one length of containers. The hull downstairs contains a technical room, individual storage spaces as well as communal facilities such as a kitchen, lounge area and laundromat.

From the second floor a staircase leads to the rooftop terrace overlooking the Copenhagen canals as well as the other two rooftops. The second rooftop is covered with sedum plants, which is a CO2 neutral option that enables biodiversity. Amongst additional positive effects are its insulating effects, protection of the roof and noise reduction. The third rooftop holds a photovoltaic system. The sun delivers all the hot water needed by our residents and power the low-energy pumps that provides heat.

The corners of the containers are slightly detached not only to open the central common space to the view of the water, but also to allow an expansion of the community over time. In the future, walkways can be positioned where the first-floor containers meet to be attached to adjacent future units, and hereby creating a settlement system that can be replicated and potentially infinitely expanded.

Our hull is made with 250 millimeters armed concrete and weighs 211 tons alone, with a draft of 1.11 meters.

Hull dimensions is 11 meters * 7.6 meters, and our total width is 19.5 meters.

When you attach all the containers on top of the hull and place all the installations etc. it weighs in at 600 tons and has a draft of almost 3 meters.

At every glass door a manifold containing electricity, water, wastewater etc, makes sure that the Urban Rigger hull is prepared for expansion.

Level 1


Level 2


Level 3


DC Facade


SC Facade


Connected by design

Today, we should no longer ask if life on water will happen – but when.

Global organizations like the UN understands that we need a new way of life if we are to solve the issues our planet is facing with overpopulation, rising sea levels, and the depletion of our planet’s resources.

The UN has engaged Bjarke Ingels Group and a large team of scientists to create the technology for floating cities that can facilitate sustainable and comfortable living for more people.

Together, they are working on designing Oceanix, a floating city the size of Manhattan, that will be self-sufficient in renewable energy, ocean thermal heating, sustainable sea farming, optimized conditions for urban greenhouses, solar power, drinking water, circular waste management, etc.

Urban Rigger is the first step – a step towards life on water.

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