Are floating cities our future?
It makes sense that the Netherlands is the nation testing the waters when it comes to floating homes, given the country's green ethos and history of innovative design. The country is also the lowest lying in Europe, making sea level rise a very real threat. But it isn't just floating houses the Dutch are experimenting with.
Backed by the UN, US-company Oceanix is leading the charge on large-scale floating human habitations, currently developing what it describes as the "world's first resilient and sustainable floating community for 10,000 residents on 75 hectares".
"When it comes to sea levels rising, coastal city decision makers basically have two options," said CEO of Oceanix, Marc Collins Chen. "Build a big wall, which will likely never be tall enough; or look at the latest in engineering, which is floating in place."
Though labelled as a "floating city", what Oceanix is proposing – initially, at least – is more akin to large floating districts; aquatic expansions to overcrowded coastal megacities that are already struggling with rising sea levels, such as Jakarta or Shanghai. These new "cities" will be made up of two hectare-wide, buoyant, triangular platforms, each of which is envisioned to be home to 300 people, with additional space for farming and recreation. They can be fastened together to form increasingly expansive settlements.
"We are building infrastructure that is able to cope with extreme climate events, as well as being highly sustainable," said Chen. "We want these settlements to use no fossil fuels. It's all renewable energy, and we're trying to grow 100% of our protein requirements on board."
It all sounds very impressive, but could these floating city expansions become a reality in our lifetimes?
"Oh, it's happening," said Chen. "We will see a floating prototype in the next few years. I'm very confident of that."
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