Main image: The Oceanix City prototype: is this our shared future or is it merely a fantasy? Photo credit – BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group
Since the beginning of time, the planet has experienced dramatic changes including in climatic conditions. In this blog, Andile Shange, sustainability consultant at Solid Green, reflects on the challenges faced by coastal cities.
With the advent of climate change and the real threat of rising temperatures leading to droughts and floods, biodiversity is under a severe threat and people are called yet again to adapt to change.
Establishing floating homes and communities
One of the ways that people are adapting to climate change is through floating homes and communities.According to Climate Adapt (https://climate-adapt.eea.europa.eu/metadata/adaptation-options/floating-and-amphibious-housing) floating and amphibious houses are built to be situated in a water body and are designed to adapt to rising and falling water levels. Floating houses are permanently in the water, while amphibious houses are situated above the water and are designed to float when the water levels rise. These buildings are either moored permanently to land or can be transported on water.
A neighbourhood on artificial islands
IJburg, a residential neighbourhood that is being built on artificial islands in Amsterdam, and the Seattle Houseboat and Float Home community, located on Lake Union, both developed largely from a need that arose when property prices in these cities soared. Ironically, the purchase of land rights on water became more affordable than purchasing actual land.
Floating homes like this may soon become a norm for many people who face the very real threat of losing their homes to rising sea levels. Houseboats are built with careful consideration, as the layout of the homes must be balanced so that the house is not heavier on one side than the other. The materials need to be lightweight, function as intended and be treated to withstand the wet environment.
As floating homes often don’t have access to municipal services, many house boats have found ways to generate alternative power with, for example, photovoltaic cells located on their roofs.
Continuously rising sea levels
Research indicates that sea-level rise is expected to be between 0,3 and 2,5 metres above 2000 levels by 2100 (Climate Change: Global Sea Level, Rebecca Lindsey, 2020-2021) . Cities bordered by water such as New York, Venice, Shanghai and Mumbai may have a different landscape in the next 88 years.
One potential solution is better planned floating communities and, by extension, floating cities such as Oceanix City (Oceanix – Leading the next frontier for human habitation (oceanixcity.com) , a prototype for the world’s first sustainable floating city. The project, proposed in 2019 by the Bjarke Ingels Group, will be located off the coast of Busan in South Korea.
The benefits of the project and, hopefully soon, many like it include protection from sea-level rise, the provision of alternative housing for crowded cities, renewable sources of energy and lower CO₂ emissions – for example, Oceanix has proposed banning carbon-emitting transportation, and waste will be sorted to be recycled or repurposed (https://www.bigrentz.com/blog/floating-cities).
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