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UN tables floating cities as viable means to tackle global housing crisis

1 oceanix city 3to2

The United Nations (UN) has mooted the idea of floating cities as a “viable” solution to tackle urban challenges such as climate change and the lack of affordable housing.

The floating city concept, which has been updated by architect Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), was raised at a UN roundtable looking at how threats such as rising sea levels, other natural or climate-related disasters and housing shortages could be overcome.

“We have come together here to think ahead and reimagine our cities and our urban agenda,” said UN deputy secretary-general Amina Mohammed.

The meeting was co-convened with Oceanix, a company looking to build the floating structures, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Centre for Ocean Engineering and the USA-based Explorers Club.

UN-Habitat executive director Maimunah Mohd Sharif said now was the time for innovation and new ideas that must help everyone.

“We must to ensure that the benefits of technological advances are a basic right, not a privilege of the few. UN Habitat is ready to provide the platform so that we can engage the best minds in every part of the world,” she said.

A spokesperson for BIG said floating cities would be home to 10,000 people, be able to withstand severe weather conditions and produce their own power and food as well as manage water and the disposal of waste.

“We are trying to imagine a country based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals,” said BIG founding partner Bjarke Ingels.

The cities are built up of hexagonal, 156m wide neighbourhood building blocks, on which sit triangular platforms with communal corners for production of food, protection or docking areas. Low edges give residents direct access to the water.

On the platforms, four to seven storey buildings are spread evenly to distribute the weight and resist wind. These buildings would be a mix of living, research, retail, market and co-working spaces. Solar panels would provide energy for the platforms and the buildings would be made out of sustainable materials such as bamboo and timber.

Underneath the building blocks, ocean farming for seaweed, oysters and scallops would clean the water as well as providing a food source. 

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