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United Nations reviews ambitious plan for sustainable floating cities

Floating cities once seemed like something out of a sci-fi movie. Now it looks as though the UN is getting on board.

The United nations this week was presented with a new frontier for human settlements, along with the possibility of living sustainably and in harmony with life below water.

Bjark Ingels Group (BIG) presented Oceanix City at the first United Nation’s high-level Roundtable on Sustainable Floating Cities. Co-convened with OCEANIX, the MIT Center for Ocean Engineering and the Explorers Club, BIG’s proposal explores a human settlement that can withstand floods, tsunami’s and hurricanes.

With 9 out of 10 of the world’s largest cities exposed to rising seas by 2050 founding partner of BIG Bjark Engels said, “The sea is our fate – it may also be our future.

“The first sustainable and self-sustained floating community Oceanix City is designed as a human made ecosystem channeling circular flows of energy, water, food and waste.

Image: BIG

Oceanix City is a blueprint for a modular maritime metropolis anchored in the United Nationals 17 Sustainable Development Goals which include vaccination, education, repurposing materials, avoiding all types of food and water waste and keeping our oceans safe.

The additive architecture can grow, transform and adapt organically over time, evolving from a neighbourhood of 300 residents to a city of 10,000 – with the possibility of scaling indefinitely.

The designs presented at the United Nations Headquarters on 3 April at the first ever round table from on Sustainable Floating Cities.

The UN Secretary General Amina Mohammed said he was delighted to see thinking being pushed on the topic, opening minds to potential solutions for a more sustainable future.

“Our approaches to development and environmental sustainability in cities need a serious retooling to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow,” he said.

The concept designed by BIG includes a collection of hexagonal platforms moored to the ocean floor, with facilities to product power, fresh water and heat.

The city would sit around one mile of shore from major coastal cities but could be ‘towed’ to other locations in the event of disaster.

The villages would not allow any high emitting cars or trucks and use new technologies such as driverless vehicles and drone deliveries.

Image: BIG

The city would be constructed out of sustainable materials such as bamboo, and promote ocean farming, which involves growing food beneath the surface of the water. Cages underneath the platforms could harvest scallops, kelp and other forms of seafood. Structures would be kept below 7 stories to create a low centre of gravit and resist wind.

The UN hasn’t formally endorsed the project, but it’s a big step. Victor Kisob, The assistant secretary-general and deputy executive director of UN Habitat said in his opening remarks that, “all solutions must be considered in how we build cities . . . . It’s our duty to make sure this burgeoning sector is mobilised for the good of all people.”

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