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FLOAT - Floating Land On Aquatic Territory - look seawards by 2020!

Posted by
on April 14, 2017 at 01:16 PM

Yes, the future has arrived. It’s actually knocking on our doors, and it has taken the sea-route to get here! While the world has been talking about humans moving to future colonies in space or on the moon, the California based Seasteading Institute, after a 5 – 8 year period of research and innovation, is finalising plans to locate the first floating city in the Pacific ocean off the coast of Tahiti island through a deal they have finalised with the Government of French Polynesia. Planning to house 250 people on this first floating city by 2020, the institute aims to house millions of residents in many such floating cities by 2050. 

© Courtesy of internet resources

Though an idea that took root in several heads in the 1990s, it began to be pursued seriously with the setting up of the Seasteading Institute in California in 2008 by Wayne Gramlich and Patri Friedman. They believed that technology for off-shore installations like oil platforms and artificial islands which already existed had only to be collected and developed into making a full-fledged city on the high seas. Having pushed back the original plan of having a seastead in the middle of an ocean in international waters un-governed by any particular country on account of exorbitant execution costs, the institute settled for the calmer territorial waters of an existing nation to be more suitable to build the first floating city. The institute has been in talks with several nations who would be interested in hosting this prototype of a floating city, which would be a combination of what is known as a start-up city and a seastead, in their aquatic territory. A deal is reported to have been finalised recently with French Polynesia to locate the first floating city project near the island of Tahiti. The deal is that the floating city will enjoy a substantial political autonomy from the host in return for economic, social and spatial benefits that the host city will accrue from it.  

Countries like French Polynesia are under a very real threat from rising sea-levels due to climate change possibly submerging some of their islands in the near future. The ravaging effects of climate change and depleting resources having become humanity’s primary concern, efforts have been on throughout the world to develop sustainable alternative life systems to preserve the planet and even to look for optional locations where human colonies could reside when space here gets saturated. During this course, many designs have been envisaged to have colonies in space or on the moon or to make some other planet habitable, but that option being made available affordably and practicably right here on earth, on an alternative aquatic territory, seems to be  beating them to the finish line.

Further than being a solution to just the space crunch, floating cities or seasteads have been imagined as independent territories where different alternative forms of government and political systems can be experimented with – a sort of libertarian utopian escape for world citizens who are unhappy or fed up with the existing political framework governing their current locations. The seasteading institute sees this as a huge opportunity for the world to innovate new more sustainable and equitable societies and styles of living, to establish new nations – a correction that is almost impossible to make in existing set-ups. 

Having already crowd-funded the design project in alliance with the co-founder of Paypal and surveyed potential customers for their requirements and specifications, the Seasteading Institute has partnered with the Dutch aquatic urban design firm, DeltasSync, to engineer an architectural seastead design. Reinforced Concrete has been finalised a s the strongest, most economical and sustainable material for building the square and pentagonal hollow block platform modules which will have 50 m sides and will be 50 m in height. These modules once floated can be joined like the pieces of a jigsaw in different patterned combination according to the requirement.  On these platforms will be erected the elements of the city which are a maximum of three storeys high residential and commercial buildings, apartments, terraced housing, office space and hotels as well as open green spaces and aquaculture farms. Protection from storms and high waves is provided by the really high platform height and its potential to bob up and down riding on waves, aided by stabilisers and wave breakers placed around. These wave breakers are also expected to harness energy from the waves and contribute to the colossal amount of alternative energy like solar and hydroelectricity proposed to be produced on the seastead, making it completely fuel-free. The preliminary concept for the pilot project in the waters near Tahiti completed by DeltaSync is of 11 such modules with an estimated project cost of $167 million.

Well, this fantastic and apparently impossible dream of floating new nations on seas is about to start becoming a reality – much thanks to the people at seasteading institute believing in it and toiling to make it happen, Some of their original ideas - like people who were disenchanted by one floating city’s offerings being able to unhitch their platform from the group and set sail to go and hitch up with another city - still seem practically impossible. So was their very concept of having floating cities on seas initially ridiculed as hyper utopian and wildly impracticable; the designs they developed were criticised as aping the hi-tech aesthetics of the Silicon Valley. But, it serves well to remember that it’s been the people in technology that have made most of the once impossibly futuristic dreams come true. And so, having now arrived on the threshold of making the basic dream a reality creates the grounds for believing on, dreaming on.....and preparing to invest in F.L.O.A.T. - Floating Land On Aquatic Territory!

Designer : Seasteading Institute, DeltaSync
Photography :internet resources

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