“Johan’s Ark” and 21st Century Ark-Building
by Owen James Burke
20 years ago, Dutch construction company owner Johan Huibers had a dream that part of Holland had been flooded. The very next day, he was stricken with the compulsion to build an ark.
In 2004, Huibers completed his first ark, which was about half the size of Noah’s described ark in the Bible. He chartered the craft through Holland’s canals, charging $7 a person, which has funded his most recent project.
The new ark, which began construction in 2008 and has cost him just over $1 million, is every bit as large as Noah’s and is even being crafted using his measurement of cubits (the length from one’s elbow to fingertips). The ark weighs just under 3,000 tons, the official length of the vessel is 450 feet and it is being designed to carry 1,500 passengers, including two live chickens and a few pair of fiberglass animals.
Made out of pine, as God had requested a resinous wood, the ark would not have been architecturally sound without a steel hull. Amongst architects and boatbuilders, there is some skepticism as to how Noah’s Ark may have been so long, as historically, no wooden ship has ever been successfully built over 350 feet as the length does not allow for enough support to keep the hull watertight. So Huibers built her with a steel keel.
According to Mr. Huibers, the ark is about ready to set sail, and he is in negotiation with London about bringing the ark down the Thames for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
But Huibers is not alone in his mission to construct an ark. It would seem, as Rick at the Old Salt Blog suggested, that there has been a “flood of arks”. The three Kwok brothers in Hong Kong have a shore-based ark that also measures 450 feet long, though it is a themed hotel with gardens, theaters and rides, full of 67 pair of fiberglass animals.
A 160 million dollar project is under way in Grant County, Kentucky to develop a Noah’s Ark theme park, which is receiving a good amount of controversy as state financial support could breach First Amendment laws of separation of church and state.
In New Brunswick, Canada an ark was built to serve as a dorm and administrative building at a Bible College, though its specifications are not quite in tune with those from the Bible.
In Frostburg, Maryland, an ark has been under construction for 30 years, but poor funding and lack of lumber have stunted the project.
On Mount Ararat in Turkey, the environmental organization Greenpeace built an ark in an attempt to bring attention to global climate change.
Despite all of these concurrent projects, Johan’s new ark will probably be the only one to take to the water. Judging by the Netherlands’ low-lying topography and our uncertainties about global climate change, who knows? It may just come in handy.