Hurricane-proof, flood-proof, and self-sustaining—those will be three of the criteria for the United Nations “floating city” coming to the waters off of South Korea’s coast in 2025.
The $200 million futuristic city plans were announced earlier this month after more than two years of design and planning. Busan, South Korea, agreed to host the floating city, which is being designed by Oceanix and the United Nations’ Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat). Like a growing number of coastal cities, Busan, a city home to more than 3.4 million people, is feeling the impacts of climate change.
“It just happened that Busan is the best place for us to deploy this prototype,” Itai Madamombe, a cofounder of Oceanix, told Business Insider. “But this is something that we hope will be useful to all coastal cities around the world, and all coastal communities who are facing the challenge of sea-level rise.”
Building a floating city
The flood-proof city will rise with the ebb and flow of the sea perched atop a series of hexagonal platforms made buoyant by a limestone coating that’s two to three times harder than concrete. The materials will work with minerals found in the water; electric currents will amplify the minerals and make the platform material stronger and even capable of self-reparation, the designers said, rendering the city virtually indestructible.
Hexagons—like the insides of beehives—are the most efficient shapes for architectural efforts because they conserve space and materials.
The city is expected to house 10,000 full-time residents, produce its own food, energy, and freshwater. The city will rely heavily on communal farming on each of the platforms.
While climate change is impacting a number of regions across the globe from the Himalayas to the Amazon—coastal cities face unprecedented threats due to rising sea levels. A growing body of research and data points to worst-case scenarios where coastal communities and delta cities including Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Manila, Melbourne, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Rotterdam, Tokyo, and Venice could be underwater within the next century.
Sustainable city concepts
Sustainable city concepts aren’t new; communes and other intentional communities have been working on modern self-sustaining cooperative living models for decades. But while some have succeeded, many of these efforts have faced immense challenges, most often the result of cult-like leaders and poor resource management. Democratizing resources and support from entities like the UN-Habitat program could help to foster longer-term sustainability for projects like Oceanix’s floating city.
Other sustainable city ideas are in the works as well. In September, entrepreneur Marc Lore unveiled plans for Telosa—a sustainable city on U.S. soil that could be built by the end of the decade. Lore’s Telosa is rooted in a concept he calls ‘Equitism” that would make the land a community endowment.
Oceanix says its concept revolves around people who want to protect the planet—and that’s a number that continues to grow as the impacts of climate change take a toll.
“We build for people who want to live sustainably across the nexus of energy, water, food and waste,” the company’s website reads. “We build smart, but most importantly, we build a thriving community of people who care about the planet and every life form on it. Humanity can live in harmony with life below water. It is not a question of one versus the other.”