Between floating harbor pools and resilient coastlines, Bjarke Ingels’s firm BIG knows a thing or two about designing for rising sea levels. Now, the Danish studio is working with a floating cities non-profit called Oceanix and the MIT Center for Ocean Engineering on an even more ambitious project.
Recently unveiled at a UN-Habitat roundtable, Oceanix City is a futuristic concept for a floating city that the team believes could be the future of sustainable living. By some estimate, 90 percent of the world’s largest cities will be exposed to rising sea levels—Oceanix City is designed to exist off the coast of those metropolises as a resilient alternative.
Oceanix City comprises discrete floating communities that can expand, contract, and combine to form ever-evolving, scalable cities. Each prefabricated hexagonal island is 4.5 acres and is large enough to house 300 people. Combine six of those islands and you’ve got a village; combine six of those villages and you’ve got a small city of 10,000. “The additive architecture can grow, transform and adapt organically over time,” says Ingels.
The modular villages cluster around a central protected port and have their own specialized communal purpose, whether it’s shopping or healthcare, that will encourage co-mingling across the villages. Residents can travel to different land masses by foot, boat, or electric car, but each island is designed to grow its own food and purify its own water.
It’s an idealistic vision of the future, in which people, banished from their homeland by floodwaters, have established an egalitarian and self-sufficient place to live. It’s utopian and dystopian at the same time, like a well-designed Waterworld that someday might be reality instead of fiction.