Illustration by William Erwin and Dan Fletcher, eVolo
Touted as an eco-friendly floating city, the Seascraper (pictured in an artist’s conception) is among a raft of concepts for sustainable offshore settlements. With more than seven billion people on the planet, mass migrations to cities, and increased risks of flooding and sea level rise, more and more architects and innovators seem to be weighing anchor.
Illustration by Mathias Koester, eVolo
With only its stabilizing floating ring and transparent dome protruding above the sea, the Waterscraper is envisioned as a tubelike underwater residence and lab—all designed to withstand crushing water pressures.
Natural light would filter down from the dome as the Waterscraper drifts from one destination to the next. Beaches, restaurants, a marina, and a dive center would cater to luxury-apartment dwellers and hotel guests.
Concepts like the Waterscraper are being touted as potential solutions to the planet’s urban population pressures.
According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, half of humanity currently calls an urban area home. And before we reach 2050, India’s cities will grow by 497 million people, China’s by 341 million, Nigeria’s by 200 million, and the United States’ by 103 million.
Oil Rig Reimagined
Illustration by YoungWan Kim/SueHwan Kwun/JunYoung Park/JoongHa Park, eVolo
The Water Circles concept would convert old oil platforms into water-treatment plants that transform saltwater into fresh water. Remaining fossil fuel extraction infrastructure would be used to channel seawater into the floating desalination plant.
Spherical modules would distill saltwater and store fresh water bound for water-poor countries. The old oil rigs would also house researchers and sustain on-site food production, according to the South Korea-based design team.
Floating Cruise Ship Terminal
Illustration courtesy Koen Olthius and Dutch Docklands
This 5-million-square-foot (490,000-square-meter) floating cruise-ship terminal could host three large vessels while providing passengers a novel offshore experience, complete with open-ocean hotel stays, shopping, and dining, according to designers.
An inner “harbor” would allow smaller vessels to dock and would provide natural light for the interior of the terminal. Ten percent of the roof would be covered in photovoltaic cells that harvest solar power, according to Dutch architect Koen Olthuis of Waterstudio.NL.
The terminal is just a vision now, but Olthuis’s firm, which is committed to buildings that both adapt to and combat the challenges presented by climate change and sea level rise, has made other floating fantasies come to life.
Waterstudio.NL, based in the Netherlands, has worked on a floating city near The Hague and has started projects in the Maldives, China, and the United Arab Emirates.
Illustration courtesy Koen Olthius
Scheduled for completion in 2014, the Citadel could be Europe’s first floating apartment building, according to architect Koen Olthuis of Waterstudio.NL. The 60-unit complex is to be built in the Dutch city of Westland, near The Hague, and is meant to protect people from flooding in a country that sits, to a large degree, below sea level.
Holland is home to more than 3,500 inland depressions, which can fill with water when it rains, when tides come in, or as seas rise overall. These so-called polders are often drained by pumps to protect residents.
Floating single-family homes are not uncommon in this soggy country, but the Citadel—to be built on a flooded polder—will be the first high-density floating residential development. The complex’s floating concrete foundation will be connected to higher ground via a floating road.
Olthuis predicts the Citadel—and its five planned neighbors—will consume 25 percent less energy over its life span than a conventional building.
Green Sea Star
Illustration courtesy Koen Olthius
Slated to open in 2014, the Greenstar is to be a floating hotel and conference center off the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. The island nation is the world’s lowest-lying country, making it among the most threatened by anticipated climate change-induced sea level rise.
Designed by Waterstudio.NL to blend in with its ocean surroundings, the Greenstar will have room for 800 overnight guests and 2,000 conference attendees.
Intended to be highly efficient, the development’s small environmental footprint is a tribute to the country’s determination to fight global warming, according to Waterstudio.NL architects. Appropriately enough, organizers intend the Greenstar to be the number one meeting place for global climate change discussions.