A UN-backed initiative to build a floating city off the coast of Busan, South Korea, has been proposed to pioneer a new form of life in the face of climate-related sea-level rises.
The local administration struck a deal with UN-Habitat and Oceanix, a company formed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels Group.
The goal is to construct a metropolis constructed of hexagonal modules that can withstand a category five hurricane.
South Korea intends to get the first platforms in the water by 2025. Although the exact size of the city's first version has yet to be established, it is projected to cost around USD 200 million.
According to media estimates, the city will be built over 75 acres with a population of 10,000 people. The hexagons would be arranged around a central harbor and comprised of "villages" with a population of up to 1,650 people.
Busan was the greatest spot to develop the prototype city, according to Itai Madamombe, a cofounder of Oceanix, because it was home to one of the world's busiest ports, thus local builders and engineers had experience building beside the ocean.
The concept would be "useful to all coastal cities around the world, and all coastal communities facing the challenge of sea-level rise," she said. She noted that Oceanix is in talks with at least ten nations about constructing more floating towns.
Her team will work with local designers in Busan to customize the prototype to the environment. In April 2022, Oceanix wants to present the results of its efforts before a second UN roundtable. The team would next begin engineering the platforms and going through the approval procedure.
When Bjarke Ingels Group first suggested the concept in 2019, it outlined a strategy to make the city more sustainable by incorporating floating reefs for growing shellfish and kelp, freshwater systems, aquaponic agriculture, and rooftop solar panels (see further reading).
In April 2019, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, Marc Collins Chen, CEO of Oceanix, and Nicholas Makris, professor at the MIT Centre for Ocean Engineering, explored the floating city concept at a UN roundtable discussion.
Floating cities might be part of an "arsenal of tools" for adjusting population centers to climate change, Mohammed said at the forum. "Cities are increasingly at risk of flooding as a result of climate change," she warned.
According to some estimates, the ground on which some portions of Bangkok are built, sinks by two centimeters every year, while sea levels in the Gulf of Thailand rise."
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