Shaped like a flower and covered in shiny petal like solar panels an amazing plan for a futuristic floating city was unveiled at a UN Habitat conference last week. The proposed city is called Oceanix after the company behind the concept and the artist’s rendition makes it look like a glamorous fusion of living on a tropical island and a science fiction movie.

Conceived as a modular floating community hosting 10,000 people across 75 hectares on connected man made islands. Residential neighbourhoods would be focused around an inner central harbour, while the outer islands would be used for storage, farming and energy requirements.

Sustainablity

The city would be self-sustaining, producing zero waste, drinking water would come from desalination plants and by taking moisture from the air. Food could be grown on small floating aquafarms and the city would be anchored to the sea floor around a mile offshore rather than floating around the oceans.

Floating cities or sea steading has long been a libertarian dream, but the reality of developing such a community has meant they have never actually materialised, despite funding from wealthy patrons.

If the idea seems futuristic and utopian, thats because in one sense it is. But Oceanix is primarily a proposed solution to rising sea levels will which swallow up many coastal cities, pushing inhabitants further inland or forcing them to build expensive sea defences.

An Untested Concept

The cost and practicalities of building floating cities has not been tested and even a small community proposed by Oceanix could cost millions or billions of dollars to pilot and would represent a drop in the ocean compared to the huge numbers of people who will be uprooted by rising sea levels.

But given that 50 percent of the world’s population lives close to a shoreline and so much of the world’s economy tied up with the world’s oceans, trade, fishing and increasingly energy (as more wind turbines are placed offshore and tidal and wave power become more feasible), working with the seas and finding ways to live with disappearing coastlines is a must.

Are Moonshots Worth It?

Many would argue that it is better to upgrade existing cities rather than spend money on expensive “moonshots” (as some have described Oceanix) which may not work and could well just benefit the wealthy. But adaptating to a changing climate will require a wide host of innovative solutions and floating cities could well be among them.