By TON Maldives Desk
A city is in offing from the waters of the Indian Ocean in a turquoise lagoon, just 10 minutes by boat from Male, the Maldivian capital, a floating city, big enough to house 20,000 people, is being constructed. Designed in a pattern similar to brain coral, the city will consist of 5,000 floating units including houses, restaurants, shops and schools, with canals running in between.
The launched floating city is a combined venture between the government of the Maldives and property developer Dutch Docklands. "A floating city will look accurately the same like normal cities and so with grimy roads, beautiful, lively houses.
The first units will be unveiled this month, with residents starting to move after the completion of whole city in future. The project is a joint venture between property developer Dutch Docklands and the Government of the Maldives is meant for futuristic vision. It's being built as a practical solution to the harsh reality of sea-level rise.
An archipelago of 1,190 low-lying islands, the Maldives is one of the world's most vulnerable nations to climate change. Eighty percent of its land area is less than one meter above sea level, and with levels projected to rise up to a meter by the end of the century, almost the entire country could be submerged.
However, if a city floats on water it could rise with the sea. According to founder of Water studio this is "new courage" for more than half a million people. It can prove that there is affordable housing, large communities, and normal towns on the water that are also safe. Through this way, the (Maldivians) will go from climate refugees to climate innovators.
In 2003, Olthuis founded Water studio, an architecture firm dedicated entirely to build on water. The biggest problem is space. As cities are expanding and appropriate property for new urban development are running out and the need to build on water is the need of hour in some places like Maldives.
However in recent years, climate change has become "a facilitator," driving floating architecture towards the mainstream. Over the last two decades, Water studio has designed more than 300 floating homes, offices, schools and health care centers around the world.
The Netherlands has become a epicenter for the movement, a home to floating parks, a floating dairy farm, and a floating office building, which helps as the headquarters for the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA), an organization focused on scaling climate adaptation solutions. The cost of not adapting to these flood risks is extraordinary. Floating offices and floating buildings are part of this planning to counter the climate of the future.
Despite getting momentum in recent years, floating construction still has a long way to go in terms of scale and affordability. The Maldives project aims to achieve both, constructing a city for 20,000 people in less than five years. Other plans for floating cities have been launched, such as Oceanic City in Busan, South Korea, and a series of floating islands on the Baltic Sea developed by Dutch company Blue21, but none compete with this scale and timeframe.
Water studio’s city is designed to attract local people with its rainbow-colored homes, wide balconies and seafront views. Residents will get around on boats, or they can walk, cycle or drive electronic scooters or carts along the sandy streets.
The capital of the Maldives is hugely overcrowded, with no room to expand besides into the sea. It offers space that is hard to come by in the capital. Male is one of the most densely-populated cities in the world, with more than 200,000 people squeezed into an area of around eight square kilometers. And prices are competitive with those in the Hulhumalé (a manmade island built nearby to ease overcrowding) starting at $150,000 for a studio or $250,000 for a family home.
The segmental units will be constructed in a local shipyard, then towed to the floating city. Once the floating city is operationalized, it will attached a large of people to underwater concrete hull. peach reefs that surround the city will help to provide a natural wave breaker, stabilizing it and preventing inhabitants from feeling seasick.
The potential environmental impact of the structure will be thoroughly assessed by local peach experts and approved by government authorities before construction began. To support the marine life, artificial coral banks made from glass foam are connected to the underside of the city, which will help stimulate coral to grow naturally.
The aim is for the city to be self-sufficient and have all the same functions as one on land. There will be energy, powered mainly by solar generated on site, and sewage will be treated locally as feed for plants.
As an alternative to air conditioning, the city will use deep water sea cooling, which involves pumping cold water from the deep sea into the lagoon, helping to save energy. By developing a fully functioning floating city in the Maldives it will be solution of climate change and urbanization, that's both practical and affordable.