Floating Cities Aren’t the Answer to Climate Change
UN-Habitat is looking at high-tech urban islands as a potential survival fix for communities at risk from rising seas. This isn’t what resilience looks like.
CityLab, April 10, 2019
Last week, at a roundtable at the United Nations headquarters in New York, a Tahitian entrepreneur named Marc Collins unveiled a new model for a “sustainable floating city” designed in collaboration with the architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and other partners. Called Oceanix City (after Collins’s company Oceanix), it would house up to 10,000 people and aim to be as self-sufficient as possible. Oceanix calls it a response to sea-level rise and climate displacement.
From above, the speculative city looks a bit like a flower, with shiny petals of solar-roofed, man-made islands ringing a central port area. The 4.5-acre islands would not actually float free, but would be anchored to the sea floor by biorock, a material that’s used to build artificial coral reefs. For drinking water, the putative residents of Oceanix City would extract humidity from the air and desalinate seawater; their food would be harvested from small floating farms and under water via aquaculture. Oceanix City would be both hurricane-resistant and zero-waste.
Architectural renderings of the city show Jetsons-esque watercraft zipping past domed greenhouses and stylish modern buildings. The sky is azure; the water is calm. It could be a very high-end all-inclusive Caribbean resort.