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Floating cities – just a fad?

Posted on 27 January 2015.

More and more architects are designing floating cities. We take an ocean cruise around these extreme constructions.

Technological advances make floating cities a potential alternative to land-based developments.

Global warming is accompanied by an inexorable rise in sea level, but 21st century urban planning seems to be rising to the challenge - floating city projects are going full steam ahead worldwide. At the helm are some highly imaginative architects with some not so crazy prototypes made feasible by technological advances and designed to offer an alternative to traditional cities. Which is fine, but they also have to get them afloat! Half a century ago the French architect Paul Maymont designed the first ever floating city – a marine pyramid named Thalassa situated off the coast of Tokyo – but his plans never left the drawing board... In the next five years however, Thalassa’s little sister could well emerge from the waters of the Gulf of Fonseca, in Honduras. In 2020, the Seastading Institute, with support from the design company DeltaSync, will be beginning the construction of an artificial island. Feasibility study to hand – which can be found on the Institute's website - this reinforced concrete island will consist of a series of architectural units powered by green energy for the use of floating micro-communities focusing on innovation: from aquaculture to information technology, startup entrepreneurs will be welcome... as long as they don’t get seasick!

A metropolis inspired by a lily...

On the other side of the world on the Chinese coast, the exorbitant prices per square meter have driven the real estate industry to innovate. The China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), in conjunction with AT Design consultants, is investigating the feasibility of a 10 km² floating city in the middle of the China Sea - its first components could be put to the test as early as 2015... Whatever the push may be, the race to complete the first floating city is well and truly underway. Who knows? Maybe one day we will see Japan's Shimizu Corporation "Green Float" skyscraper and marine metropolis - a smart building surrounded by farmland using recycling seawater. Or what about the Lilypad city designed by the Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut, which with its three marinas and water lily inspired design, could accommodate 50,000 climate refugees and follow the ocean currents? Nothing is less certain, but the architects and their buildings seem firmly resolved to take the plunge...