Climate Change Threatens Urban Spaces Worldwide. How About a Floating City?

A new proposal offers a bold spin on the idea

Oceanix City
Floating city life doesn't look so bad.
OCEANIX/BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group

The idea of floating cities might seem like the stuff of science fiction novels, but it’s one that’s gaining traction in the scientific community. And while you might be familiar with, say, the seasteading movement or the checkered history of Sealand, the latest push for floating cities has more to do with the realities of climate change than anything else.

To put it another way: rising sea levels as a result of climate change pose a serious threat to coastal cities around the world. There are certainly ways to mitigate this for existing cities, but for thinkers, another concept has come to mind — creating entirely new cities or developments that would be situated on the water itself.

At Smithsonian Magazine, Elissaveta M. Brandon explored this new approach to urban planning. The article spotlights the work done by Oceanix, who describes their Oceanix City project as “a vision for the world’s first resilient and sustainable floating community for 10,000 residents on 75 hectares.”

Oceanix took a modular approach to urban design. Brandon notes that the city would be comprised of a number of smaller floating islands, each capable of housing 300 people. Put six of them together, and you get a village with its own harbor. Put six villages together and you have a city that’s home to over 10,000 people.

Brandon reports that Oceanix is “gearing up to build a prototype of a 5-acre city for 300 residents (that’s the equivalent of one Manhattan block, but with over half the density).” Certain elements of the project sound especially daunting, including an ambitious goal for zero waste. And, as the article points out, a city that’s home to thousands of people won’t necessarily help the millions whose homes are at risk. Still, it’s a project that expands the boundaries of what’s possible — and might end up doing far more.

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