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Maldives builds floating city for 20K people amid climate crisis

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One development company is gearing up for the inevitable – rising sea levels.

And to prepare, floating cities are beginning to develop around the world.

In April, the United Nations announced the construction of the first floating city off South Korea’s second-largest city, Busan. Known as Oceanix City, it plans to provide homes for a community of 12,000 people, potentially rising to 100,000, with construction due to start in 2023.

And now a second floating city is being constructed outside the capital of the Maldives.

Designed in a pattern akin to brain coral, the city will consist of 5,000 floating units. These units will include houses, restaurants, shops and schools, with canals running in between. In total, the city expects to house up to 20,000 people. And much like Oceanix, can withstand hurricanes.

The first units are to be unveiled this month, with residents beginning to move in early 2024. The whole city is set to be completed by 2027.

The city has a nature-based structure of roads and water canals resembling the efficient way in which real brain coral is organized, according to the Maldives Floating City site.
Artificial coral banks will be attached to the underside of the city, which will stimulate coral to grow naturally.
Artificial coral banks will be attached to the underside of the city, which will stimulate coral to grow naturally.

“Floating real estate will provide safety and building space for overcrowded and flood-threatened cities,” said Koen Olthuis, founder of Waterstudio, the architecture firm that designed the city. “Floating developments will push real estate beyond the waterfront which will change our cities similar to the introduction of high rise buildings a century ago.”

Olthuis’ architecture firm is dedicated solely on building properties on the water.

“The developer, Dutch Docklands Maldives is a public-private partnership with the government,” Olthuis said. “The pocess took almost 10 years but will unlock similar opportunities in waterfront cities around the world,”

The floating city is located only ten minutes by boat from the capital of Male and the international airport.
The floating city is located only ten minutes by boat from the capital of Male and the international airport.

Features of Waterstudio’s city in the Maldives include rainbow-colored homes designed to attract local people. Wide balconies and seafront views are added onto each home. For transportation, residents will get around on boats, or they can walk, cycle or drive electric scooters or buggies.

“Tech is not the problem, but it is the regulatory framework that takes time to adjust,” Olthuis explained. “Money talks and so this means when authorities understand that the cost of floating development is lower than the cost of destruction of waterfront infrastructure and properties then this next shift in city development will fly.”

The capital of Maldives, Malé, is considered one of the more densely-populated cities in the world, with more than 200,000 people squeezed into an area of ​​around 2,000 acres.

Foreign buyers of a house in Maldives Floating City can apply for a Residence Permit in Maldives.
Foreign buyers of a house in Maldives Floating City can apply for a Residence Permit in Maldives.

Average prices start at $ 150,000 for a studio or $ 250,000 for a family home, Olthuis said.

Currently the units will be built in a local shipyard, which they will then tow to the floating city. Once they are shipped to the city, they units will be attached to a large underwater concrete hull, which is screwed to the seabed on telescopic steel stilts allowing it to move smoothly with the waves.

Olthuis explained it would be a fully functional city like any other city on land.

“I think the role of architects changes from designer to city doctors, curing the cities problems by using water as a medicine,” he said.

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