Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Floating Cities

The notion of living on the water has long been with homosapiens - from the wonder that was pre-conquest Mexico City, through the marvel that was medieval London Bridge, to the on-going beauty of Venice and the communities of 'bargees' which adorn the canals of Europe.

Nothing new to students of Utopia, now, a 'new frontier' is being opened up, stemming from this ancient obsession. Inhabitable land is decreasing, with the dual problem of climate change and increasing populations across the globe. If the latest research on global warming, as presented at the Copenhagen Summitt on 11 March 2009, is correct, and sea levels do indeed rise by up to 2.2 metres by 2100, floating cities may prove to be a solution - along with other measures, I would hasten to add! The above picture illustrates the 'Lilypad' concept of Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut.

Two organisations are currently exploring the viability of floating cities in very different ways.

The brainchild of Norman Nixon, Freedom Ship was established before 1999, with an amazing vision of a floating city which will repeatedly circumnavigate the world over a two year period. The original conception was seen very much in the guise of tax evasion, with the ship standing outside of the law, but Mr Nixon has gone out of his way to disabuse any investors or interested parties of these ideas. Unfortunately, Mr Nixon's company has recently been the victim of a fraudulent crime, resulting in the loss of a substantial amount of money.

The second drive is being guided by the Seasteading Institute, which seeks to determine the viability of alternative ways of living - "If people could create societies with different priorities - the environment, civil liberties, economic freedom, religious values - we'd be able to see how well these ideas actually work in practice. In some cases, certain approaches will work so well (or terribly) that everyone (or no one) will use them too. In others, it will turn out to be a matter of preference, in which case we'll be giving people the choice to choose to live in whatever small society is closest to their ideal." The manifesto "Dynamic Geography: Blueprint for Effective Government" outlines the vision of the Institute, which also has a competition for designs of seasteads.

Again, inspiration from the past is driving the solutions for the future...