Is the idea of a floating city too far fetched to be achieved in the near future? Funding for such a place is already being put together. To deal with climate change and rising sea levels, a coastal city could at best attempt to construct effective sea walls. A floating city, however, would not have to worry about how high the sea level rises. Floating platforms will be created, large and numerous enough to build a town or city on top of. The floating cities will not be constructed far from civilization; instead, they will be built in the calm waters near coastal cities.
The startup Oceanix plans to build the first of these. Oceanix CEO Marc Collins Chen refers to these sea platforms as climate-proof cities. He refers to the increasingly chaotic weather that towns are being hit with today and intends for his floating cities to remain safe even if climate change becomes much more severe. A floating town will consist of a large number of five-acre platforms, which the builders will anchor to the seafloor in shallow waters. Walkways will allow the residents to travel from one platform to another.
As well as being able to resist climate change, these floating settlements will be built with as much sustainability in mind as possible. Buildings will be made out of timer from sustainable forests. Food will be grown in greenhouses. Vertical farms will be constructed, allowing a larger amount of food to be grown on each acre than could be with typical agriculture. The power sources used to power each Oceanix settlement will be entirely sustainable as well. Wind and solar are intended to be enough to provide power to all of the adventurous residents. Even the water will be supplied by desalination plants to prevent the use of our finite if renewable freshwater supplies.
Chen thinks of his floating cities as urban extensions to coastal cities. Residents will still spend much of their time on land, but in neighborhoods that will be constructed at sea rather than on land. Housing, stores, and probably schools and hospitals will be constructed. The floating cities will be divided into villages of 2000, which will be built close together and allowed to expand to accommodate much larger populations.
Chen’s ideas have gained widespread support by powerful organizations, including the U.N., whose human settlements program held a discussion of the idea in New York. Architecture professor Geoffrey Thun of the University of Michigan also praised Chen’s vision. The future cities enthusiast, however, was concerned about a lack of information about the possible problems with everyday life in such a city.
As far back as the 1960s, Buckminster Fuller suggested that a floating city could be constructed near Tokyo, and many other proposals for floating cities have appeared since then. Whether or not Chen will live to see his dream succeed is not known, but Chen is almost ready to move ahead to the stage of building a prototype. The floating city may not be science fiction for very long – it would only take months, and not years, to build a prototype, Chen says.