It is a sad reality that as glaciers melt and sea levels rise, the coastal cities are facing a growing danger and must come up with ways of coping with the increasing threat of flooding. Seawalls are one way of dealing with it so are the green technologies. However, Oceanix, a startup, has a completely different approach for how urban areas can deal with the rising water; by floating on it rather than resisting it.
Marc Collins, CEO of the startup, said, ‘Cities are getting hit with new types of extreme weather that they weren’t designed for — think of Sandy here in New York. We have taken into account that this must be a future-proof, a climate-proof city for the future.’
The company’s idea is called Oceanix City, and its illustrations show an enclave that has been built on floating concrete platforms. Each platform spans over five acres and has been moored to the seafloor in waters that are shallow. The platforms have been linked using walkways for creating communities that are cohesive and feature all trappings that are considered urban. There is an element of sustainability included as well; the buildings are crafted from timber that has been sourced from sustainable forests; vertical farms, greenhouses, and underwater gardens. Renewable power sources such as wind and solar are employed. Sewage and waste recycling systems along with desalination plants are also part of the plan to provide drinkable water.
The city is capable of transforming organically and adapting over time. It can go from a neighborhood of 300 residents to a city of 10,000. Collin Chen says, ‘Think about it as an urban extension to a coastal city. It’s just affordable housing, maybe schools, maybe hospitals — whatever it is that the city really needs, but on floating infrastructure as opposed to on land.’
Center for Ocean Engineering at the MIT is in charge of designing the floating platforms for the Oceanix City. Bjarke Ingels Group of architects is designing the above-water structures. Oceanix is incorporated in Hong Kong and headed in New York by Collins Chen and is bringing the two expertise together. The Oceanix City concept has already got the backing of the United Nations. UN’s Human Settlements Program or UN-Habitat conducted a roundtable discussion on this idea as well.
Geoffrey Thün, a future cities expert and professor of architecture at the University of Michigan, said it ‘offers an ideal model for how we should be thinking about the metabolism of our cities’ — however he did say that ‘they seem to exclude much of the gritty realities of complex urban life.’
Oceanix will be building a prototype of its floating platforms as part of the next phase of the project. Collins Chen said, ‘We should be able to build this within months, and not years.’ What do you think of Oceanix City? Do let us know!