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Floating city planned to house 10,000 people

10/04/2019
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Climate models predict that rising sea levels could pose a threat to many of the world’s biggest cities by 2050 potentially displacing millions of people and destroying homes and infrastructure. But architecture firm BIG has a bold solution- the creation of a floating city that could be home to 10,000 people.
Floating cities could offer a solution to rising sea levels.
(Floating cities could offer a solution to rising sea levels. Image via Oceanix).

Named the Oceanix City, the concept was commissioned by Oceanix- a company that develops innovative ways to build on water- and was revealed during proceedings at the First UN High-level Roundtable on Sustainable Floating Cities, which Oceanix co-convened with MIT, the Explorers Club and UN-Habitat, a UN offshoot mandated to work with city development.

The concept is modular in nature and consists of buoyant islands clustered together in groups of six to form villages. These clusters would then be repeated in multiples of six to form a 12-hectare village for 1,650 residents, and then again to form an archipelago with over 10,000 residents.

As you can see from the concept artwork Oceanix City looks like a ‘hexagonal island’. If it was actually to be built- and as far as we are aware there are no plans to do so- it would cover an area of 185 acres.
The Oceanix concept's modular design means it can be easily scaled.
(The Oceanix concept’s modular design means it can be easily scaled. Image via Oceanix).

The design of the city implicitly favours growth over time, with the modular nature of its construction opening up the possibility of scaling indefinitely. All built structures on the islands are kept below 7 stories to create a low centre of gravity and resist wind. Every building fans out to self-shade internal spaces and public realm, providing comfort and lower cooling costs while maximising roof area for solar capture. Communal farming is the heart of every platform, allowing residents to embrace sharing culture and zero waste systems. Below sea level, beneath the islands, biorock floating reefs, seaweed, oysters, mussel, scallop and clam farming clean the water and accelerate ecosystem regeneration.
Structures on the island 'fan out' to provide shading both on the inside of the buildings and of the public spaces.
(Structures on the island ‘fan out’ to provide shading both on the inside of the buildings and of the public spaces. Image via Oceanix).

Each of the modules would be built on land and then towed to sea, where they would be anchored in place and joined together to form the larger city. According to BIG, the architectural practice behind the concept, the islands are designed to survive a category-five hurricane.

Commenting on the concept at the UN event where Oceanix City was revealed, Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General, said:

“We live in a time when we cannot continue building cities the way New York or Nairobi were built. We must build cities with solutions for low-emission development – scaling safe and electric-powered public transport solutions and changing the grid on which cities rely to clean energy solutions. We must build cities for people, not cars. And we must build cities knowing that they will be on the frontlines of climate-related risks – from rising sea levels to storms”.

“Floating cities can be part of our new arsenal of tools”.
Extensive bio rock reefs beneath the artificial islands will help to regenerate marine ecosystems.
(Extensive bio rock reefs beneath the artificial islands will help to regenerate marine ecosystems. Image via Oceanix).

Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner of BIG, said:

“Nine out of 10 of the world’s largest cities will be exposed to rising seas by 2050. The sea is our fate – it may also be our future. The first sustainable and self-sustained floating community Oceanix City is designed as a human made ecosystem channelling circular flows of energy, water, food and waste. Oceanix City is a blueprint for a modular maritime metropolis anchored in the Sustainable Development Goals. The additive architecture can grow, transform and adapt organically over time, evolving from a neighbourhood of 300 residents to a city of 10,000- with the possibility of scaling indefinitely to provide thriving nautical communities for people who care about each other and the planet”.

It’s an ambitious concept, but if climate risks and rising sea levels are serious enough we could well see the day when 10,000 people are living on a floating city.
Despite the placed picture presented in the concept artwork, the designers say that the floating city would be able to withstand severe weather.
(Despite the placid picture presented in the concept artwork, the designers say that the city would be able to withstand severe weather. Image via Oceanix).

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Floating city planned to house 10,000 people - Time to read 4 min
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