Culture 4 min read

U.N Body Designs Hurricane Proof Floating City

Image via the Bjarke Ingels Group

Image via the Bjarke Ingels Group

The Bjarke Ingels Group, or BIG, is an award-winning architecture firm with offices in Copenhagen, New York, and London.

Known for its, big, daring, and futuristic designs, BIG has an impressive catalog of avant-garde projects around the world.

Examples of BIG projects that are under varying stages of development include: New York’s One World Trade Center, Dubai’s Mars Science CityHyperloop One, and Google’s North Bayshore Campus just to name a few.

BIG’s philosophy centers around the idea that architecture can be at its best when it serves both pragmatic and utopian ideals.

One concept design that epitomizes BIG’s pragmatic utopian architecture is for a floating city that addresses some of the major environmental pressures facing the world.

Oceanix, a Sustainable Floating City

According to the 2017 U.N. Ocean Conference, over 40 percent of the world’s population, around 2.4 billion people, live within 60 miles of the coast, and more than 600 million live in coastal zones less than 10 meters above sea level.

More and more people living close to the ocean puts increased stress on marine resources and ocean plastic pollution. At the same time, they expose themselves to oceanic threats like rising waters, hurricanes, and other extreme weather events.

On the other hand, humans can’t just avoid the oceans: the planet’s surface is 71 percent water, and oceans hold 99 percent of the habitable space on Earth.

Floating cities could be an innovative approach to create artificial ecosystems that caters to all life forms while preserving the ocean’s resilience.

BIG has plans for a floating city, called Oceanix City, designed as a resilient and autonomous floating community, which can hold 10,000 residents, complete with sustainable energy, water, food, and waste systems.

The BIG designs show modules shaped like hexagonal islands to be constructed, towed to position, then moored to the ocean floor using biorock, and connect to form the 4.5-acre city. The modular design allows the city to be scaled up as needed.

In BIG founding partner Bjarke Ingels’s own words:

“Oceanix City is a blueprint for a modular maritime metropolis anchored in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The additive architecture can grow, transform and adapt organically over time, evolving from a neighborhood 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 our planet.”

The U.N. is on Board

The concept of floating cities isn’t new and a number of projects are under consideration in some coastal areas and islands, but this marks the first time the U.N. has formally stepped in.

The U.N. held its very first High-Level Roundtable on Sustainable Floating Cities last week with BIG, Oceanix, and the MIT Center for Ocean Engineering.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed considers this roundtable as just the start of a dialogue:

 “to fully explore and increase the understanding of the opportunities Sustainable Floating Cities offer to solve the pressing challenges faced by coastal urban areas”.

While this is far from an official endorsement, director of the United Nations Human Settlement Programme Maimunah Mohd Sharif expressed the UN support of the Oceanix project.

Mark Collins Chen, an entrepreneur and former minister of tourism in French Polynesia is the co-founder and CEO of Oceanix.

For a country as threatened by rising sea levels as French Polynesia, autonomous settlements floating offshore could be a solution that solves many problems.

Although they still lack funds, Chen wants us to know they’re “not just theorizing. Everybody on the team actually wants to get this built”.

Read More: Floating City Prototype to Debut by 2020

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

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