Maldives Floating City Offers Vision of Future

Project could prove that human societies can survive and thrive on open seas
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2022 3:20 PM CDT
Maldives Floating City Offers Vision of Future
This screengrab shows an architect's rendering of the Maldives Floating City, which is designed to resemble brain coral.   (YouTube)

A new city is rising in the Indian Ocean, and it’s not intended as a tourist trap or playground for the wealthy. Per CNN, the project is a joint venture between the Maldives government and developer Dutch Docklands, which hails from a country with deep experience adapting to intrusive ocean waters. The Maldives Floating City will be home to 20,000 people and 5,000 buildings, including schools, restaurants, and shops, all interconnected by a network of canals and beaches designed to resemble brain coral. Dutch architect Koen Olthius says it offers “new hope” for Maldivians, whose nation of 1,190 islands could be submerged by century’s end.

"It can prove that there is affordable housing ... and normal towns on the water that are also safe," Olthius told CNN. “[Maldivians] will go from climate refugees to climate innovators.” Construction is proceeding quickly, with the first residents expected in 2024 and a completion goal of 2027. Modular units built in a local shipyard are towed to sea and connected to an underwater, concrete hull, which is stabilized by telescoping steel columns. Per the Independent, the government calls it “the world’s first true floating island city—a futuristic dreamscape finally poised to become reality,” though the architecture reflects the culture and traditions of a seafaring nation, as depicted in this video from Dutch Docklands.

Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed said it will have “minimal impact” on natural coral reefs, and new artificial reefs will help protect ocean habitats as well as the city, per USA Today. “Our adaption to climate change mustn’t destroy nature but work with it,” Nasheed said in a statement. “We cannot stop the waves, but we can rise with them.” The city will be solar powered, sewage will be treated and composted, and air conditioning will be augmented by cold water pumped into the nearby lagoon from the depths of the ocean. Residents will get around by boats and electric scooters, and most homes will cost between $150,000 and $250,000. (More Maldives stories.)

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