From army forts turned into pirate radio stations and oil platforms converted into micro-nations, the notion of living full-time on the high seas is nothing new. However, these amazing award-winning designs from the recent Seasteading contest float in front of us five jaw-dropping possibilities for the future of urban life on the sea unlike any artificial islands you have ever seen (including this recycled floating paradise island).
The winning design is a colorful and vibrant work of imaginative urbanism, depicting a world on the water not unlike life on land with winding paths, city squares, mixed uses and traditional architecture. Like a slice lifted from the heart of an old European town this Swimming City concept sits on four pillars with room to pass beneath it and the remnants of its removal showing on all sides.
Almost more a luxury resort hotel than a city on the sea, the winner of the best picture award certainly warrants its prize for the compelling visual cacophony of the above rendering. The image shows off tropical beach-like edges with premium condos jutting out to overlook the water and a dense core of mixed-use functions.
Deemed to have the most personality, this runner-up design is as much about change over time as it is about a fixed work of construction. The idea is a simple, modular mixed-use city-on-a-platform that has the freedom to evolve and expand as needed – forever a work of urban design in progress.
In the realm of aesthetics this design was elected the winner, perhaps in part for the way it shows off its green design strategies in the look of the structure itself. Shaped to channel wind, bring in solar energy and passively cool (as well as feed) the residential population within, this enclosed city structure is eco-friendly in appearance as well as in practice.
It may be no surprise that this last design won the peoples’ choice award. It recalls both the form of a modern city square as well as the oil rigs and other converted architectural remnants of the world’s oceans we have come to associate with creative conversions and liberation from the laws of society and government alike.
In a world where almost every square inch of (non-freezing) land seems occupied, it is no wonder that our imaginations take us to the high seas when we think of adventure, freedom and new frontiers. The floating ‘Lilypad‘ concept above envisions a series of entire mobile, self-sufficient and off-the-grid ocean cities, but you do not have to look into the far future to see amazing artificial architecture for living on the water.
From former military stations to over-sized oil platforms, there are already many fully-oceanic structures sitting far from land and anchored into the Earth far below the waves. One of the classic examples is these sea fort towers off the coast of Britain that were deserted after being used to fend off air raids in world war too – and which have since been stripped of bridges but still used in a variety of creative ways both residential and commercial in nature.
Other sea forts have been converted into entire micronations (in the case of Sealand – shown in the middle row of photos above) or resort hotels (like the large round ones at the bottom, closer to the English shores than the spindly army towers shown above). Some people have even gone out of their way to build an entire all-new floating home from free recycled objects for themselves.
The Seasteading Institute has been involved in engaging architects and amateur designers alike in conceptualizing water-based homes – both fixed-in-place and free-floating- Ã‚Â that range from houseboat-sized ideas to whole mini-cities.
So what is the future of floating urban life? It is hard to say. There is no shortage of interesting ideas for developing water-top real estate, but cost is of course prohibitive in many cases. However, as more and more oil platforms go abandoned – each of which could arguably hold up to hundreds of attached condos and residences of various kinds – there might be a new urbanism that arises out of the depths of our world’s oceans.