Posts tagged with "Jacques Rougerie":

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Seasteaders to bring a libertarian floating community to the South Pacific

Right now, engineers, scientists, and officials from one country in the South Pacific are hashing out a seastead. The movement is an ambitious experiment in aquatic living that’s shaped by libertarian dreams, a pragmatic response to climate change, and a novel architectural experiment.

“Seasteaders want voluntary societies based on choice, not force,” said Joe Quirk, Seasteading Institute communications director and author, in a YouTube video on the subject. The San Francisco-based organization is on the front lines of the seasteading movement, a Libertarian-influenced crusade that borrows from the language of the American frontier to frame its freewheeling settlement at sea. Decentralized dwelling, the thinking goes, permits members to join or leave the autonomous association at will by simply detaching their dwellings and floating off, literally voting with their sea legs to leave. If this sounds far-fetched, well, the first seasteaders may hit the water in just a few years.

The community could be afloat soon—like, 2020 soon. The Floating Islands Project, as it is officially known, will be built with emerging floating-construction technology and is meant to attract investment to French Polynesia. Its sheer novelty has already garnered extensive media coverage. But will it work?

Although seasteaders can theoretically float anywhere, the Institute found a partner in French Polynesia, an island country in the South Pacific. This January, French Polynesia signed a memorandum of understanding with the Seasteading Institute in San Francisco to build a floating island prototype. The project, off the coast of Tahiti, has to demonstrate it won’t adversely impact the environment, and show what it will contribute to the island’s economy, and then the nation will establish an offshore economic zone for the seasteaders.

Although seasteading’s libertarian ideals perhaps make French Polynesia—well, any nation—an unlikely partner, the government views seasteading technology as a potential Hail Mary in the anthropocene. Many of the country’s thousands of islands are flat and narrow, a topographic combination that is particularly susceptible to climate change. Floating islands could be a vital survival strategy if (but really, when) the seas rise. In turn, the area’s shallow water and ocean conditions that don’t include high waves make the current technology—which has been pioneered on flat water—more adaptable to ocean conditions.

By the end of this year, the Institute, which was founded in 2008 by libertarian activist Patri Friedman, is working with French Polynesian officials to pass a seazone act. If the rules pass, the group will head to Tahiti to develop a pilot program. So who are the architects of the seastead?

This is certainly not the first architecture at sea, nor the first time the island-platform technology’s been used. In 2011, a series of floating islands opened in the Han River in Seoul, South Korea, while French architect Jacques Rougerie has designed a floating, partially submerged city shaped like a manta ray. As far back as 700 AD, people have been living for long periods of time on the ocean.

For the seasteaders, Dutch firm DeltaSync has built a prototype on a lake in Rotterdam. The Floating Pavilion Research suggests that buildings up to 164 feet (15 stories) tall can be built on the seas and are able to withstand storms and choppy waters. Four years ago, DeltaSync debuted a preliminary plan which estimated that a series of platforms for 20 to 30 people would cost around $15 million. With one-fifth of the space reserved for open greenery, the firm estimates living space would cost about $500 per square foot, which is just over half as much as the average price per square foot in New York City (and less than a third of the price of Manhattan’s tony Upper East Side). (Neither the Seasteading Institute nor marine engineering firm Blue 21, an offshoot of DeltaSync that’s working on the Tahiti project, could be reached for comment on these latest plans.)

It’s no surprise that the project has—or had—high-profile fans in Silicon Valley. Gawker shutter-downer and Trump supporter Peter Thiel funneled a cool 1.7 million dollars into the initiative, but has since dismissed the concept as “not quite feasible.”

But despite its ostensible freedom at sea, the project can’t escape from social concerns. By comparing themselves to American frontiersmen, seasteaders (a term derived from “homesteaders”) invoke the same tabula rasa colonialism that Europeans used to justify the wholesale genocide of indigenous people in the Americas and elsewhere. Is libertarianism, in this case, an aegis for clueless Silicon Valley tech-bro optimism?

Quirk and others at the Institute have a new company, Blue Frontiers, whose mission is to develop and build the floating seabeds, so it’s only a matter of time before these questions are answered. 

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Architects turn to the sea with real proposals for subaquatic living

Sub-aquatic colonization is as alien as inhabiting Mars, yet both topics trend in the design world. Some designers believe residing in the deep sea would resolve crises over food, energy, water, and carbon dioxide. Here are six proposals for subaquatic cities, some of which are being realized, despite resembling post-apocalyptic films.

Aequorea

Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut has revealed ambitious plans for Aequorea, a series of self-sufficient floating villages constructed of recycled plastics from the Great Pacific garbage patch. Each jellyfish-like eco-village would spiral down to the sea floor—forming 250-floor "oceanscrapers"—and house up to 20,000 people. The 250 floors would contain science labs, offices, hotels, sports fields, and farms. Micro-algae would grow in the aquatic walls, and the villages would operate on algae fuel or hydrocarbons. According to Vincent Callebaut Architectures, the objective of Aequorea's residents would be to "explore the abyssal zones in a respectful way, in order to speed innovation and to democratize new renewable energies – by definition inexhaustible – massively." See the Aequorea project page here.

Lilypad

Callebaut also designed Lilypad, a floating city that could house 50,000 people. The proposed city's form mimics the intensely ribbed Victoria water lily. An artificial lagoon would lie in the center, surrounded by three marinas and three mountains. These ribs would house work, shopping, and entertainment, while food and biomass would be produced below the water line. Callebaut hopes for Lilypad to be built by 2100. See the Lilypad project page here.

The Ocean Spiral

The Ocean Spiral, an underwater metropolis proposed by Japanese construction firm Shimizu Corp, would drive energy from the seabed and house up to 5,000 people. Homes, businesses, and hotels would reside in a sphere 1,640 feet in diameter and connect to a 9-mile spiral that extends to a submarine port and factory. Ocean Spiral would use micro-organisms to turn carbon dioxide into methane. According to Shimizu Corp, the project is being researched by Tokyo University, Japanese government ministries, and energy firms. Shimizu Corp believes the necessary technology will be available in 15 years and construction would take five. See the Ocean Spiral project page here.

Sub Biosphere 2

London based design consultant, Phil Pauley, designed Sub Biosphere 2, a network of biomes to house 100 people below water. The center biome would rise 400 feet above water, submerge 20 feet below water, and regulate fresh air, water, food, electricity, and atmospheric pressure. The surrounding biomes would split ten stories above water and ten below. Residents would live off hydroponic crops, grown in the biome seed bank. See Phil Pauley's webpage here.

Floating City

Chinese construction firm, CCCC-FHDI, commissioned England and China based firm, AT Design Office, to design a four-square-mile floating city utilizing the technologies CCCC-FHDI is using to build a 31 mile bridge between Hong Kong, Macau, and Zhunai. AT Design Office proposes prefabricated hexagons connected by underwater tunnels. The hexagons would contain residential, commercial and cultural facilities. All residences would have ocean scenery from every direction. The top of each block would have a club, while the bottom would contain an equipment room and a gravity regulation system. Architect Slavomir Siska said, "China Transport Investment is reviewing the proposal and is likely to start to test this ambitious project from a smaller scale next year." See AT Design Office's webpage here.

The City of Mériens

This 3,000-foot-long, 1,600-foot-wide manta ray is actually a floating university campus, called the City of Mériens. French Architect Jacques Rougerie designed the city to accommodate 7,000 academics for research and education. The city contains classrooms, lecture halls, laboratories, residences, and recreation, which would all run on renewable marine energy to produce zero waste. Rougerie told Weather.com, "I designed the City of Mériens in the form of a manta ray because it was the best design to accommodate such a community with regards [to] the best possible correlation between space and stability needs." The manta ray form is to counteract turbulence, while the descended structure is to maintain steadiness—rising 200 feet above water and 400 feet below. See Jacques Rougerie Architecte's webpage here. Although these ambitious proposals and renderings can be mistaken for science-fiction, organizations are seriously investing in their research and implementation. Maybe we will see smaller scale aquatic cities in our lifetime, but in the meantime, here is Kevin Costner's Water World: