8 floating cities, between present and future

Amid climate crisis and ceaseless urban expansion, projects of artificial cities in the middle of the sea are rapidly multiplying: we have collected some of the most interesting, while their actual implementation still remains an open point.

Inhabiting the sea. A myth that over the centuries has transcended the Atlantean myth introduced by Plato, generating perimeters of coexistence between man and water. Generating amphibious metropolises like Venice and Amsterdam, Recife and Suzhou; embarking thousands of people by sea on ships as large as cities. And creating cities suspended over water, watery versions of mines, with oil platforms. Although the sea has been ploughed by shipping routes for millennia, it has never been completely stripped of a feeling of freedom. And here are the ships-casinos off the coasts, or the dance-autarchic experiments of the Isola delle Rose, a platform planted in the middle of the Adriatic where people also went dancing. And it is from this decade that Little Island was inaugurated, an artificial island on the Hudson, in New York, designed as a recreational place, which could however become the prototype for other similar structures in the near future.

Today's technologies make the possibility of inhabiting the sea closer than before, and the dream of doing it stronger. A dream whose narrative is strongly linked to the climate crisis, destined to redefine many coastlines – and what we expect from a coastline – in the coming decades. But the sea is also the easiest outlet to imagine for densely populated city-states that no longer have space inland. We collected a series of projects that tell this different kind of storie: just projects, for now; but soon we may see them reshaping the planet.

Dubai Reefs: the largest artificial reef in the world

The developer URB – declaredly at the forefront of designing zero-impact sustainable cities – has unveiled the world’s currently largest marine restoration project. Located in Dubai, it is a floating community dedicated to marine research and regeneration. Yet, part of this program will be dedicated to eco-tourism. Read more

A floating city to transform the oceans into a new economic zone

Japanese startup N-Ark has unveiled Dogen City, a floating city capable of housing 40,000 people. Read more

A new floating city in the heart of the Maldives

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. Read more

An octagonal floating port city in Saudi Arabia

In Neom, the same area of the vertical city The Line, a new floating city named Oxagon will be built, designed to take advantage of maritime transport through the Suez Canal. Read more

Floating City, a functional platforms powered entirely by renewable energy

Luca Curci Architects, in collaboration with designer Tim Fu, presented a model featuring interconnected functional platforms powered entirely by renewable energy. Read more

Little Island, un futuristico parco galleggiante, apre a New York

Little Island, originally called Pier 55, was designed by Thomas Heatherwick and Signe Nielson of the landscape architecture firm MNLA to provide a variety of spaces to experience while enjoying a stunning view of the city from the water. Built on top of 132 concrete columns shaped like a tulip, the $260 million project is the first new park to open in the city since the pandemic began. Read more

Extreme theme park to be built on oil rig in Saudi Arabia

Financed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, the extreme park – as they called it –will be comprised of roller coaster rides, zip lines, and waterslides, submarine adventures and more sports like diving and bungee jumping, as well as three hotels with 800 rooms and 11 restaurants, spread over a number of connected platforms. For luxury travelers it will be possible to arrive by helicopter, as well as by superyacht, thanks to a marina with 50 berths. Read more

A new flat-pack system for floating houses

It comes from Denmark, and more precisely from a studio specialising in maritime architecture, a new system for the construction of floating buildings that is more flexible and more sustainable than traditionally used devices. Called Land on Water, the project consists of modular containers that can be filled with various flotation elements, similar to the way gabion are used in the construction industry. Read more

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