Jul 23 2008 7:32am

Lilypad Cities

Vncent CallebutSoon, we may well all live on peripatetic pond-fodder, lazily riding the currents from sea to sea to sea. Vincent Callebut is a Belgian architect with a penchant for grandiose post-apocalyptical thinking. His ‘Lilypad Floating Ecopolis’ (pictured here) is a self sustaining, amphibious structure which houses approximately 50,000 people. Its design was inspired by the prospect of having to house coastal refugees after the polar ice-caps have all melted away. Take a look at his website, which, along with the Lilypad, serves as showcase for two other concept projects, both equally SFnal: The ‘Anti-Smog’ of Paris and the ‘Perfumed Jungle’ of Hong Kong. If nothing else, the beautiful renderings will hold your imagination hostage for quite a while. (Via CNN.)


Matthew Lerner
1. fuz
I think you mean Hong Kong not Honk Kong. I actually thought it was part of the title until I followed the link...
Lance Weber
2. LanceWeber
I would never live on one of these! What happens if they get too close to the edge? Are there anchors or something to keep them from going over?
Phillip Nunemacher
3. philn
It sounds like he has bought into the Global Warming Scam a little too much. Excuse me, I should have been more PC and said Climate Change as they can't seem to decide if it is warming or cooling.
James Nicoll
4. JamesDavisNicoll
In Canada we have a method for dealing with slow water level rise that we call in our simple way "walking up hill." We also have quite a lot of tolerable land located well above any plausible sea level rise . The Urban Corridor in Canada could plausibly hold another few hundred million people at reasonable population densities and it is only a very small fraction of Canada.

1: The highest rate I see predicted is about 2.4 mm/year. Admittedly this could very annoying from the point of view of nations and cities that are already not very far above sea level, particularly when combined with the odd storm surge.

2: Which would be about 14 meters, assuming Greenland is denuded of ice. Have an amusing toy to see what various sea level increases do to your home town:

Happily Upper Canada is well above the high water mark, although Lower Canada gets a bit damp as far up the St. Lawrence as Montreal.

The Gulf states in the US are inconvenienced from even fairly modest sea level rises but a quick back of the envelope calculation reveals that since Americans are composed of primarily of water and generally run less than 100 kg, they each take up about 1/10th of cubic meter. 30 million refugees could therefore be housed in a cube about 140 meters on an edge. If we double that volume for the life support hoses and entertainment cables, it is still less than 200 meters on an edge.
Chris Tetro
5. christetro
Climate change or not I love it! Anchored in the Doldrums I would love to live on one of these.
6. nutmeag
What happens when a storm hits? You know, hurricanes, tsunamis, etc . . . ?
James Nicoll
7. JamesDavisNicoll
Aren't tsunamis long wave length and low amplitude in mid ocean? Deep water communities might be OK.

I have a faint memory that the disturbance caused by storms does not go beneath a particular depth so perhaps the communities could be made semi-submersible.
Eric Tolle
8. ErictheTolle
Huh. The flood map is disappointing; the San Francisco Bay won't get closer than 4 miles to my home (goodby shoreline property). My workplace isn't even submerged, so what good is global warming?

As for the floating city, it seems to me that they would be expensive enough to build that they would end up as a playground for the rich. The refugees from the areas actually in danger of flooding would likely only be allowed onboard as servants. So that's a lot of fuss to live in something that would be like a combination mall and resort hotel.
9. akabrady
It's a neat idea, but that's it.

The water level of the oceans have been rising and lowering for millennia, (sorry if someone missed the memo) and have you ever seen anyone build a city that floats just so they could remain in the same global position? Or, have they simply walked inland (or outland depending on the water level) and set up shop on the new shore line?
James Nicoll
10. JamesDavisNicoll
"So that's a lot of fuss to live in something that would be like a combination mall and resort hotel."

This would be the point where I recommend Christopher Brookmyre's One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night, which is set on a former oil rig retasked to be a towable resort.
James Nicoll
11. JamesDavisNicoll
" have you ever seen anyone build a city that floats just so they could remain in the same global position?"

Not floating but Venice?

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