Floating Cities - Utopia or Future?
The expected rise in sea levels is one of the most feared effects of climate change, along with the accumulation of extreme weather events. The warming of the earth by half a degree caused the oceans to rise by 20 centimetres during the last century. This may not seem much when you look at your own front door - but for coastal inhabitants and island states the search for solutions is becoming more urgent. Floating cities could be one of them.
The subject and, above all, the concerns of the regions concerned are not new. Ten years ago, the cabinet of the Maldives held a special session under water and appealed to the international community to reduce CO2 emissions. The message was clear: water is up to our necks. And in fact the group of islands threatens to become uninhabitable in this century due to the rise in sea level - another 20 centimetres could be enough. French Polynesia is in a similar position, about halfway between Australia and South America in the Pacific. Many of the 118 islands and atolls are already under acute threat. For this reason, the government decided to cooperate with the California-based Seasteading Institute. Its vision was to colonize the oceans with the help of floating cities, the first of which would become reality in French Polynesia.
Although the project has now been stopped, this does not mean that the idea of the floating city has died. Anything but that: the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN Habitat) recently held its first round table on this topic in New York. Scientists, engineers, artists and investors discussed Oceanix City - a kind of blueprint for life at sea. It was conceived by Marc Collins, the former tourism minister of French Polynesia, among others. The floating city was designed by Danish star architect Bjarke Ingels, and experts from renowned organisations such as the UN and MIT were also on board. The islands consist of hexagonal platforms of around 20,000 square metres each, which can accommodate up to 300 people. They are anchored to the seabed and can be linked together in modules to create larger settlements. This way, the construction will also be able to withstand strong storms.
But the idea of life on the artificial islands goes much further - and it is thoroughly sustainable. The inhabitants should use 100% renewable energy, eat mostly plant-based food and produce no waste. The platforms could, for example, house aeroponic greenhouses, underwater gardens for breeding seafood or desalination plants. Perhaps most importantly, living space here should be affordable for everyone. After all, the ultimate goal is to relocate people whose homes are threatened by climate change. And this should not be a question of personal finances.
In addition to the fact that many of the technologies needed are not yet sufficiently developed, political questions also arise as the floating city moves from vision to reality. Starting with who would be responsible for their administration. Even if such important details are still open, the beginning is made. In the future, a 25-strong committee will meet regularly to plan the next concrete steps for Oceanix City - and finally make it float.