A city is rising like a phoenix in the midst of the Indian Ocean. Ten minutes by boat from Male, lies a turquoise blue lagoon where a floating city is under construction and will ultimately house 20,000 people.
Designed and patterned on the basis of a brain coral, the floating city will house homes, restaurants, shops and schools and will have canals running in between them. This month will see the unveiling of the first units. Residents are expected to move in by 2024 and the city may be completely constructed by the year 2027.
Being constructed by real estate developer Dutch Docklands and the Government of the Maldives, the floating city is not hogwash or a crazy experiment – it is being designed and built as a real solution to the rising sea levels.
One of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, Maldives is an archipelago of 1,190 low-lying islands. Eighty per cent of the country’s land area is one meter above sea level. Maldives is in a perilous position with sea levels projected to rise up to a meter by the end of the century which could submerge the whole country.
Yet the concept that if a city floats, it will rise with the sea has raised hopes of the people of Maldives. Koen Olthuis, founder of Waterstudio, the architecture firm that designed the city told CNN that “It can prove that there is affordable housing, large communities, and normal towns on the water that are also safe. They (Maldivians) will go from climate refugees to climate innovators.”
According to the CNN, the Netherlands has become a centre for the movement. It is home to floating parks, a floating dairy farm, and a floating office building, which serves as the headquarters for the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA), an organization focused on scaling climate adaptation solutions.
The CNN report states that, the project in Maldives aims to construct a city for 20,000 people in less than five years. The units will be constructed in a local shipyard. The units will be attached to a large underwater concrete hull, which is screwed to the seabed on telescopic steel stilts that let it gently fluctuate with the waves. Coral reefs that surround the city help to provide a natural wave breaker, stabilizing it and preventing inhabitants from feeling seasick.
The city will be self-sufficient with electricity being generated by solar panels. The sewage will undergo treatment and treated waste will be used as plant manure. Instead of air-conditioning, the city will use deep-water cooling method. This method involves pumping cold water from the deep sea into the lagoon. This method will help save energy.
Olthuis hopes that the city will serve as a practical and affordable answer to climate change and urbanization and will not be some sort of “freak architecture” that is found in luxurious locations which have been commissioned by the uber-rich.