The world's first floating city prototype unveiled in South Korea

The self sustainable city is designed to handle rising sea levels.
Can Emir
OCEANIX BusanUN-Habitat

In a response to the threat posed by rising sea levels, UN-Habitat, the Busan Metropolitan City of the Republic of Korea, and the blue tech company OCEANIX unveiled the world’s first prototype sustainable floating city. 

“Sea level rise poses an existential threat for some small islands and some low-lying coasts,” states a recent IPCC report from February. 

The climate change and information portal, run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Climate.gov points out that the global sea level has risen by eight to nine inches since 1880. What's more unnerving is that one-third of the rise in sea level happened in the last 25 years.

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The floating city, OCEANIX Busan, aims to provide breakthrough technology for coastal cities facing severe land shortages that are compounded by climatic threats. The city will serve as the "world's first prototype sustainable floating city," aiming to be "a flood-proof infrastructure that rises with the sea," supplying its own food, energy, and water.

The floating city has six integrated systems: zero waste and circular systems, closed-loop water systems, food, net-zero energy, innovative mobility, and coastal habitat regeneration. These interconnected systems will generate 100 percent of the required operational energy on-site through floating and rooftop photovoltaic panels. 

Each neighborhood will treat and replenish its own water, reduce and recycle resources, and provide innovative urban agriculture.

OCEANIX Busan is the world’s first prototype of a resilient and sustainable floating community. The interconnected neighborhoods spread across 6.3 hectares that can accommodate a community of 12,000 people. 

Starting from a community of 3 platforms with 12,000 residents and visitors, it has the potential to expand to more than 20 platforms. The floating platforms are accompanied by dozens of productive outposts with photovoltaic panels and greenhouses that can expand and contract over time based on the city's needs. 

Designed to meet the emerging needs of coastal cities

The designer of the city was OCEANIX, a U.S.-based blue tech company that designs and builds floating cities, while the BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group and SAMOO (Samsung Group) were the lead architects of the project.

“Today is a pivotal milestone for all coastal cities and island nations on the frontlines of climate change. We are on track to delivering OCEANIX Busan and demonstrating that floating infrastructure can create new land for coastal cities looking for sustainable ways to expand onto the ocean, while adapting to sea-level rise,” said  Philipp Hofmann, CEO of OCEANIX.

“As Mayor of the Metropolitan City of Busan, I take seriously our commitment to the credo ‘The First to the Future’. We joined forces with UN-Habitat and OCEANIX to be the first to prototype and scale this audacious idea because our common future is at stake in the face of sea level rise and its devastating impact on coastal cities,” said Busan Mayor Park Heong-joon, who has set an ambitious agenda, including turning Busan into a green smart city and launching a bid for World Expo 2030.

The Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif said, “We cannot solve today’s problems with yesterday’s tools. We need to innovate solutions to global challenges. But in this drive for innovation, let’s be inclusive and equitable and ensure we leave no one and no place behind. I am happy this Roundtable takes place ahead of the High-Level Meeting on the New Urban Agenda, where cities and countries around the world come together to discuss sustainable urbanization.”

“In designing a solution for the most vulnerable coastal locations on the frontlines of climate change, OCEANIX’s new modular maritime neighborhoods will be a prototype for sustainable communities informed by Busan’s unique juxtaposition of old and new. Creating a connection between the city and the seaside, OCEANIX Busan will expand this spirit onto the waterfront,” said Bjarke Ingels, Founder and Creative Director of BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group.

This is as scary as it is exciting to achieve such a feat, but living in a city that resembles the communities where people try to survive in the dystopian movie Water World is kind of pessimistic.

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