With climate change, melting glaciers, flooding becoming commonplace and more frequent, intense weather events (think Superstorm Sandy), urban centers of the future may not be on the waterfront, as most of the world’s megacities now are, but, instead, in the water. Floating.

That was the concept of a dramatic reveal earlier this month when UN-Habitat, MIT Center for Ocean Engineering and the Explorers Club were among those invited by the U.N. to see and hear about OCEANIX and Blake Ingels Group’s (known as BIG) futuristic vision for floating cities anchored in shallow water.

The illustration shows hexagonal-shaped concrete structures linked via walkways. According to Collins Chen, CEO of OCEANIX, six floating platforms, each five acres, can accommodate 5,000 people in a floating village; a floating city of 10,000 would combine five of the villages.

The structures would be built from sustainable forests. There would be wind and solar power, greenhouses, vertical and underwater farms (oysters, clams, mussels, scallops) and desalination for drinkable water. There would be shared recreational green space, spiritual and community centers. The floating cities would be “flood-proof, earthquake-proof, and tsunami-proof,” according to Chen whose start-up company is combining its expertise with BIG.

The concept is being taken seriously based on the U.N.’s endorsement as well as a positive response from notable experts in climate change and sustainability.

Next will come the prototype. Right now, it all seems very utopian. No graffiti. Or true grit. What about crime and punishment? Police and fire departments. On-site medical treatment. Trash. Restaurants. Shopping. With affordability as a goal, will the floating structures be cost-feasible to build?

Stay tuned to see (paraphrasing Rod Serling) whether we will be making a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead. Your next stop…floating cities.

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PHOTO: OCEANIX – BIG (Blake Ingels Group)

Published by
Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services

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