As oceans rise, one company is building cities that can swim

Like it or not, the world is sinking. If the predictions play out, the rise in sea levels is going to make a big difference in communities around the world soon. Places like Wall Street, Miami, Shanghai, and Cape Cod could be completely underwater in less than a hundred years.

This month though, a bizarre but brilliant idea was introduced at the United Nations by an entrepreneur who hopes to save humanity by building floating cities that use smart technology, extreme recycling, and a futuristic plan to build floating islands that could be moored to the ocean floor.

Bless the late Dennis Hopper, but the architect Bjarke Ingels, who designed the project, said, “The idea that we are presenting here is not that we will all be living at sea in the future. It won’t be Waterworld.”

this floating city concept could withstand a category 5 hurricane oceanix 10

The idea is to build hexagonal floating islands about the size of three football fields to house something like 300 people and then link them to form self-sustaining communities. Hook a bunch of these floating islands together, with each having a communal purpose, and suddenly you have a village, which the creators say could eventually total some 10,000 residents.

“The idea that we are presenting here is not that we will all be living at sea in the future. It won’t be Waterworld.”

The concept comes from entrepreneur Mark Collins Chen, who was formerly the minister of tourism in his native French Polynesia, which is definitively on the list to sink in the next few decades. Last year, Chen formed a company called Oceanix to examine, theorize, and build off-shore urban infrastructures to help mankind weather the coming storm.

There are two big differences between Chen’s concept and plenty of other ideas for alternatives to land-based communities. The first is scalability: if Oceanix can make one island, the experiment could theoretically be re-created over and over again.

The second difference is that Chen’s concept includes a very clear plan to anchor these floating communities about a mile off the coast of major global cities. Specifically, Chen and Ingels want to use a material called biorock, which uses small bursts of electricity to stimulate the growth of limestone from ocean mineral deposits — a real-world concept that is not only ecologically friendly but is also currently used to foster the growth of coral reefs.

It’s admittedly a pretty Utopian vision, as you can see from the concept images. Ingels framed it like this in his comments: “Imagine a community port where you have a market down by the sea, where you can go in the evening and stroll and hang out, where you can move around on electrical nautical vehicles on this bazaar-like street along canals that connect and separate islands. The same configuration can be the canvas for any culture. What you’re designing is an urban social infrastructure.”

this floating city concept could withstand a category 5 hurricane oceanix 3

The other cool thing is that Chen and his team have pulled in a bunch of smart people to tackle the essential problems. This is basically Battlestar Galactica with the advantage of water. Food? Let’s grow it, using outdoor vertical farming combined with hydroponics and aeroponics and, of course, beans. Greywater recycling? check. Extreme water recycling including water desalination? check. Hydroponics, aeroponics, sustainable transportation, and a platform that can potentially withstand a nightmarishly violent hurricane? check. Pneumatic trash tubes to flush garbage to a sorting station to identify and repurpose stuff? check.

Big picture: it’s a pretty cool idea. When you zoom out, Oceanix envisions a central open port with each “island” featuring important areas to meet the need for healthcare, education, spirituality, exercise, culture, etc. If a place sinks, Chen’s idea gives people a place to go, whether it’s temporary or permanent.

“We’re not just theorizing. Everybody on the team actually wants to get this built.”

The idea was unveiled at the First UN High-level Roundtable on Sustainable Floating Cities, which while being kind of scary, was convened with Oceanix, MIT, the Explorers Club and UN-Habitat, a United Nations offshoot mandated to work on the problem of, you know, preventing cities from drowning and stuff.

Chen is bold in his predictions. “We’re not just theorizing. Everybody on the team actually wants to get this built.” To that end, the first step would be producing a prototype of this artificial island located on New York’s East River.

There’s been some concern that some of these enterprises are attempting to create refuges only for those who can afford it, but Chen says that’s not the goal of this initiative.

“It is our goal to make sure sustainable floating cities are affordable and available to all coastal areas in need,” Chen said. “They should not become a privilege of the rich.”

While the science-fictional concept was introduced at the United Nations, the organization hasn’t formally adopted or endorsed the proposal. However, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of UN Habitat Victor Kisob said, “All solutions must be considered in how we build cities. It’s our duty to make sure this burgeoning sector is mobilized for the good of all people.”


Report: Samsung will launch the Galaxy Note 10 on August 7 in New York

According to a new report, Samsung will launch the Galaxy Note 10 at an event on August 7 in New York City. The news lines up with last year's event, which took place on August 9, and was also in New York.

Dive into the best VR experiences available now on the Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift brought back virtual reality and put a modern twist on it. Grab your Touch Controllers, put on your VR headset, and jump into the fun with some of the best Oculus Rift games available now.
Movies & TV

Prime-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite TV series currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

Who needs sunshine? Stay inside and watch the best movies on Netflix instead

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Smart Home

Walmart slashes the price on the Cuisinart 360 Griddle Cooking Center grill

Backyard grills and smokers dominate outdoor cooking, but when a novel and versatile Cuisinart patio cooker turns up, especially on sale, we pay attention. Walmart just dropped the price of the Cuisinart 360 Griddle Cooking Center.
Smart Home

Rescuing pizza: New life and new uses for your microwave oven

Leftover pizza slices can be a treat, but they're just not the same as when they're hot and crispy fresh from the oven. A new product could help pizza lovers resurrect leftover slices to nearly their original taste and texture.
Smart Home

We tested anti-snoring devices on our loudest friends. Here’s what worked

If your partner snores and it keeps you up at night, you may be interested in the latest anti-snoring technology. We tested out a few different gadgets to find out what they do and whether they work or not.
Smart Home

Food wish fulfilled? Genie launches next-gen pod-based cooking system

Microwaves were innovative and Keurig coffee pods are handy, but a new cooking system called Genie promises to create healthy, tasty, and affordable meals in just 3 minutes using a chef's process.

Eliminate excess moisture this summer with these dehumidifier deals from Walmart

Moisture isn't just an ugly word, it's unhealthy in excess, especially in your home. Dehumidifiers are an excellent way to expel excess moisture, and now at Walmart, you can score discounts on five different models of all sizes and prices.
Smart Home

Best Prime Day smart home deals: Expect Google Home and Echo special offers

Amazon hasn't revealed the exact date, but a leaked PR email indicates it starts July 15. If you have significant electronics purchases on your wish list, holding off till Prime Day could save a bucket of cash.
Health & Fitness

Best Buy focuses on fitness with new range of high-tech gym equipment

Best Buy is focusing on fitness with the launch of new in-store spaces featuring a range of connected health-boosting equipment. The new sections, which will be staffed by experts, will open at 100 Best Buy stores this year.
Smart Home

Make a better morning cup with the best coffee makers of 2019

Whether you're looking for a simple coffee maker to get you through the morning or a high-end brewer that will impress your taste buds and your friends, you'll find some of the best coffee makers around on this list.
Buying Guides

The best washing machines of 2019, from front-loaders to those with smarts

It takes a special kind of person to love doing laundry, but the right machine can help make this chore a little easier. Check out our picks for the best washing machines on the market right now.
Smart Home

The best sous vide machines cook your food perfectly, every single time

Want to make four-star meals from the comforts of your own kitchen? Here are the best sous vide machines available right now, whether you prefer simple immersion circulators or something more complex.