As climate change and rising sea levels threaten coastal communities around the world, the United Nations is betting on technology to build resilient “floating cities”.
Oceanix, a New York-based “blue technology” company, has designed a flood-resistant pilot project that it says could bring safety to millions of people.
In partnership with UN Habitatthe company is now ready to start building the first prototype in Busan, South Korea.
About 40 percent of the world’s population lives less than 100 km from the coast, and rising sea levels threaten 90 percent of megacities worldwide, according to the UN.
Floods are destroying billions of euros of infrastructure and forcing millions of climate refugees to flee their homes. But with rapid urban population growth and nowhere expanding in these coastal cities, housing costs are rising.
Oceanix co-founder Itai Madamombe believes the company’s model of floating cities could be an environmentally sustainable solution to these challenges.
“With floating infrastructure, what we recommend is that we can live in harmony with nature. We must not destroy what is beneath it. We can live above it, and life under water continues,” she told Euronews Next.
The foundations of the cities will be built with water-friendly concrete.
“We use bio-rock, a technology that rehabilitates and regenerates water and marine life. We can build coral reefs using this technology,” said Madamombe, adding that Oceanix is also working on using 3D ocean farming to provide the cities with conservation. marine biodiversity.
Less waste and no cars
“The challenges we face in developing floating infrastructure are not technological engineering challenges,” Madamombe said.
“What’s new and challenging is making them self-sustaining right through all six systems we have – energy, water, food, waste, mobility, habitat regeneration – and integrating the systems in a way that they can work efficiently,” she added.
Cities will depend only on the solar, wind, marine and wave energy they produce. They will also harvest and filter rainwater for fresh water.
Oceanix works with the Zero Waste Center to ensure that any waste created on the island can be recycled.
It will also encourage people to share utilities.
“We will try to share as much as possible, especially around mobility. For example, we will have innovative and shared mobility. There will be no cars in our floating cities. ”
Modular and adaptable cities
The structures are made of single platforms that are then integrated together, meaning the structure can evolve and adapt to the needs of the city.
“So on the ground, if you build a school or a hospital or a residence, wherever you built it, then you’re pretty stuck with that structure arranged that way,” she explained.
“But what’s amazing about floating cities is that […] if where you put the school no longer works for you, you could just open and rearrange it, literally reshaping the whole city to meet the needs of the community or the whole city, ”Madamombe said.
And because of the way they are built, cities as a whole can also be moved.
“This is not something you would do every day. [but] if you decide that the position where you put the city is not the best place for some reason or change, you could actually unblock the whole city and move to another place, ”she said.
Oceanix’s ambition is to create a city of 10,000 people. Currently, the company will start with the creation of a prototype in Busan, for which it hopes to start construction next year. And if all goes well, the first residents will be able to relocate in early 2028.
For more on this story, watch the video in the media player above.