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Above the Ocean, Time Travel Through the Floating City of Busan

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An amateur writer who enjoys writing, researching and exploring any topic that interests him.

News Flash: The long wait is over; South Korea’s Busan is all set to become the first floating city in the world.

Amid the rise and concern of climate change, the United Nations, along with various organizations, is in constant effort to tackle climate issues. One such issue is the rise of sea levels, according to reports by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a nodal agency in providing scientific data and information caused by climate change. They state that since 1890 the global sea level has seen a rise of about 8-9 inches and could reach up to 12 inches by 2050.

Coastal cities are prone to climate-related risks. Hurricanes, earthquakes, and flooding pose the greatest risk to these coastal metropolises. It is estimated that around two out of every five people lives on the coast, also a requisite place for vacationers. Therefore, in the push towards climate sustainability, the United Nations, in concert with Oceanix, has developed a solution to climate adaption, which is indeed having a sustainable floating city.

The Dawn of the Idea

The idea of having an alternate way to live against the urban problem in the near future is not something new for many utopian architects and urban planners. As seen from Yona Friedman's spatial city that expanded the idea of mobile architecture in today's era to film director and architect Liam Young's Planet City, which proposes that the entire world's population would live in one hyper-dense city the size of Tokyo.

The concept of floating city as well cannot be termed original as the idea was left behind about 62 years ago, when a well known Japanese architect, Kenzo Tange, proposed the plan for a project name Tokyo Bay.

Though the concept was made clear a decade ago, the possibility of it becoming reality only came after Oceanix, a blue tech company founded by Itai Madamombe and Marc Collin Chen in 2018, stepped in to fund a mission towards designing and building self-sustaining floating cities. It was perhaps the much needed initiative by the Oceanix in support with the United Nation towards its climate change sustainable program.

Global climate change and its credible effects on the environment has been widely documented over time. Scientist have been warning about its happening and the irreversible damage that’s coming as glaciers shrink, ice on rivers and lakes thaws earlier, plant and animal ranges change, and trees blossom earlier. As a result, hurricanes will grow stronger and the Arctic Ocean is no longer likely to be ice-covered, thereby opening the door to heat waves, heavy rain and a rise in sea level, increasing the threat to the environment and region's economy.

Since modern problems call for modern solutions, the idea of prototype Oceanix city is likely the most credible alternative in keeping with its founders' beliefs.

Busan and Its Model City

Busan the second largest metro of the Republic of Korea, also the largest port city of the country is known for its beaches and ocean-side temples. The history was repeated when the United Nations, Oceanix, and Busan on 18 November 2021, together signed the contract to build the world's first floating city in Busan.

It is Busan's geographical location along the coasts, the beaches, the cliffs, mountains, and the city's port that makes it the most ideal location for the world's first prototype sustainable floating city.

Oceanix Busan

The concept is based upon three hexagonal floating platforms that will be interconnected to each other along with a bridge connecting the land. The prototype will cover a total of 15.5 acres in surface area, each platform being designed for a specific purpose. Initially, the three hexagons, which will be more like a neighborhood, will accommodate 12,000 people with the provision to expand over 20 more platforms adding around 1,00,000 people. Lastly, the floating city will be fully sustainable with solar panels and recyclable resources, which is perhaps the best part among all the features.

With that, the city is also going to be free from natural disaster like floods and hurricanes.

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Image courtesy of Oceanix, BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group.

Image courtesy of Oceanix, BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group.

Image courtesy of Oceanix, BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group.

Image courtesy of Oceanix, BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group.

Let’s dig into some more details as to how the floating city of Busan will look.

Biorock: 'Grow and Heal' material

It is likely that the city will be constructed from Biorock, the only material for marine construction that grows and heals itself while strengthening over time. It’s a unique ocean technology that is harder than concrete and floatable.

Other lightweight materials, such as timber and bamboo, will be also used in the platform's buildings, which will not exceed five stories.

Self-Sufficient Energy Systems

Floating and rooftop solar panels through its six interconnected systems are going to provide 100 percent of the city's operational energy, allowing it to be a completely sustainable city. A zero waste and circular system, closed loop water systems, food, net zero energy, innovative mobility, and coastal habitat regeneration comprise the six systems.

In its zero waste systems, waste is turned into energy, agricultural feedstocks, and recycled materials. The city will also aim to supply organic produce from high yield, decentralized, soilless and permaculture systems.

Platforms Serve Separate Purposes

Among the three floating platforms, there will be a lodging area for visitors on one of the platforms. In addition to providing waterfront views, this area will also include retail and dining options.

On another platform, there will be residential buildings, a communal backyard, and other public spaces, while the third and last platform will serve as a research facility. It will feature a winter garden, more of a "temperature-controlled atrium" that will grow food in a forest of hydroponic towers for all to enjoy.

A Car-Free City

In similar fashion to Venice in Italy, Oceanix Busan will also be a car-free city. Residents and visitors are expected to travel either by bicycle or on foot.

Final Note

All the information above is based on the latest developments from the UN and Oceanix, announced on April 26th, 2022.

The project's timeline is mostly unknown but is expected to take about two years with its completion likely after 2025.

Upon completion of this project, perhaps we will see technology from science fiction become a reality.

© 2022 Paul

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