By 2030, approximately 60 % of the world’s population will live in cities that are exposed to grave economic, social, and environmental pressures. Further, approximately 90 % of the largest global cities are vulnerable to rising sea levels. By 2050, out of the world’s 22 megacities with a population of more than 10 million, 15 are located along the ocean’s coasts.
In June 2019, UN-Habitat New Urban Agenda along with non-profit Oceanix unveiled designs to build a floating city at sea that would house 10,000 people, be fully autonomous and could withstand Category 5 hurricanes.
Based in Hong Kong, Oceanix is the brainchild of Marc Collins Chen, a Tahitian entrepreneur and former politician, who served as the Minister of Tourism of the Pacific nation of French Polynesia. In January 2017, this nation looking for a potential lifeline as AGW takes hold, in had become the first country to sign an agreement to deploy the floating islands off its coast. Low-lying, small islands of the Pacific are disproportionately at risk of losing land as sea level climbs by an expected 10 in. to 32 in. (26-82 cm) by the late 21st century.
Also on the team are Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) in Denmark and MIT’s Center for Ocean Engineering. Oceanix City would measure 185 ac (75 ha) spread over floating platforms. The idea is that the floating hexagonal platforms would be prefabricated on land and grouped into clusters of six to create a “village” of up to 1,650 residents.
A total of six villages would then be grouped together around a central harbor. All buildings would be kept between 4 and 7 seven stories-high to ensure a low center of gravity and mitigate the effects of high winds. They would also be made from sustainable materials such as bamboo and feature large flat roofs to aid shading and offer space for solar panels. There would be a focus on farming too, both on land and, below sea level, floating reefs, seaweed, oysters, mussel, scallop and clam farming.
Residents would get around on electric vehicles. The structure itself will be moored to the bottom of the ocean and will rely entirely on the concept of so-called “ocean farming”, which means growing food under the surface of the water. For example, cells under the platforms could collect mussels, squid and other types of seafood. Aquaponics systems will use fish waste to help fertilize plants while vertical farms will generate year-round production.
Both technologies could help the city self-sufficient to food during a hurricane or other natural disaster. Either cars or vehicles with harmful emissions will be forbidden. Even garbage trucks will not be provided – trash pneumatic tubes will be installed. They will transport the waste to a sorting station where they could be identified and redirected. The city will also have a water system that extracts clean water from the air. (oceanix.org)
Currently there is a technology race to build the first green floating city for people to live sustainably on the ocean. Singapore is cooperating with Norway on ambitious floating projects. In Europe, Norway is putting the weight of its state-owned enterprise Equinor (formerly Statoil) into exploring this new space and building strategic alliances. Norway is conducting workshops on floating cities.
The Netherlands, in cooperation with the United Nations, recently announced the creation of the Global Center on Adaptation to be housed in floating offices in Rotterdam. This center will be led by several luminaries, including former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, business leader Bill Gates and CEO of the World Bank Kristalina Georgieva.
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