Building the World

CITIES: Floating into the Future


Floating cities have long captured our imaginations, and may become a reality with sea level rise. Image: “Sky City in Flash Gordon Serial” 1936. Public Domain Creative Commons. Included with appreciation.

Sea level rise is coming – how much depends upon the extent of melting glaciers and coastal inundations. Coasts often harbor cities: the earliest urban centers developed because of sea access. By 2050, 68% of the world will live in cities, many of them ports. How can coastal cities prepare for sea level rise? The Netherlands has long led the world in city design for low-lying coastal areas. Now, many cities are considering preparation for rising seas. Here are some examples.

Seoul is building floating sections of the city. Image: “Seoul at Night,” by traveloriented, 2014. Creative Commons 2.0. Included with appreciation.

Seoul announced plans for a floating public swimming pool and art pier space, featuring a concert hall and a marina. Designed for Inchon Han River Park, the 5,000 square meters development will feature the Han River by floating upon its coastal waters.  Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon announced the budget of $30 million (30 billion won).

Image: “Islands Brygge Waterfront” in Copenhagen, Denmark by photographer Jacob Friis Saxberg. Creative Commons 2.0. Included with appreciation.

Copenhagen inspired Seoul’s Mayor Oh, who announced Seoul’s new vision while visiting the Danish capital’s Harbour Bath. Denmark also built Havnebadet Islands Brygge, a floating public swimming pool that opened in 2003. Copenhagen worked on another project with Bjarke Ingels Group to build “Urban Rigger,” a floating residential district.

New York suffered damage and flooding during Hurricane Sandy, leading to a proposal to rebuild the Big U of Lower Manhattan. Image: “Flooded Avenue C at East 6th Street” taken right before Con Edison lost power during Hurricane Sandy. Photograph by David Shankbone, 2012. Creative Commons 3.0. Included with appreciation.

New York suffered $19 billion in damage after Hurricane Sandy (2012). A new city design for lower Manhattan followed. Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) is presently developing a future vision for New York City. The BIG U proposes a protective system around the area of Manhattan from West 57th Street, down to the Battery, and then up again to East 42nd Street. The area is vulnerable to sea level rise. New York may consider options for aquatic construction as well as protective barriers. Will Wall Street soon float more than bonds and floating rate funds?

Should New York City consider floating architecture in anticipation of sea level rise? “Lower Manhattan from Jersey City 2014 Panorama” by King of Hearts. Wikimedia 3.0 creative commons. Included with appreciation.

Marcus, L. “South Korean capital announces plans for ‘floating’ swimming pool and art pier.” 22 March 2023.

Bjarke Ingles Group (BIG).

Rebuild By Design. “BIG U” proposal.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 U

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