An archipelago of 1,190 low-lying islands, the Maldives is one of the nations known to be most vulnerable to climate change. In fact, 80% of its surface area is less than one meter above sea level and, according to projections, sea level rise of up to one meter by the end of the century could submerge almost the entire country. An ambitious (and invasive) new project would seek to simultaneously help both the resilience of the coveted tourist destination and the need for new housing square footage – Male, the capital, is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, with more than 200,000 people squeezed into an area of about eight square kilometres.
Only ten minutes by boat from Male, construction is beginning on a new floating city, large enough to accommodate 20,000 people. Designed in a brain coral-like pattern, the city will consist of 5,000 floating units, including houses, restaurants, shops and schools, with canals running through the middle. The first units will open shortly, while the entire city is expected to be completed by 2027.
Similar to the Oceanix City experiment in Busan, South Korea, it is expected that the city will be self-sufficient AND with all the functions of a terrestrial city. There will be electricity, powered mainly by solar energy generated on site, and waste water will be treated locally and reused as fertiliser for plants. The modular units will also be built in a local shipyard and then towed to the floating city. Once in place, they are attached to a large underwater concrete hull, which is bolted to the seabed. The coral reefs surrounding the city help provide a natural breakwater, steadying it and preventing the inhabitants from getting seasick. To support marine life, artificial coral reefs made of foam glass are attached to the bottom of the city, which help stimulate natural coral growth.