There have been numerous advances in the world of architecture and urban design in the last decade or two. From the CCTV Headquarters in China, which seemingly defies gravity, to The National Museum of Qatar which is built on top of a lagoon, there have been great efforts made at modernizing and creating innovation in design. Perhaps the most innovative build in the contemporary world is all the way in South Korea’s second-largest city, Busan.
Known to be a beautiful port city, Busan is set to be the location for “the world’s first prototype floating city”. The project would be developed in collaboration with the United Nations, namely the UN-Habitat program, OCEANIX, a firm dedicated to developing floating cities, and the South Korean government.
Despite the usage of vernacular, ‘floating’ is not the right word for it, as the city is not suspended in the air and really, the term ‘floating’ would have painted an inaccurate image. Rather, the project develops a city being built on the seas of Busan.
Not next to, nor under, but really on the sea.
While it is still a prototype, it is set to open in 2025, only three years from now. Design-wise, it is divided into different sections much like any city on land. One island is intended for housing and residing purposes while another is for research, and similarly, there are numerous other neighborhoods for other purposes. While all of these different islands are separated, they are made accessible to all residents through the use of bridges. The project has been planned to have twenty islands and cover around 63,000 square meters of the sea. While the planned population for Oceanix Busan is 12,000 people, it is capable of housing up to 100,000 people.
Why is it so important though? One may assume that it is simply another construction project.
Well, its importance stems from the fact that the project is being developed with the aim of hosting an energy source that is planned to be 100% renewable through the use of photovoltaic panels. Residents of Oceanix Busan are expected to contribute to sustaining the community by extracting their own water and collaborating on an urban agricultural system. This means that the city will sustain itself.
With the city being powered by solar panels and the water that is used in the city for purposes other than consumption being recycled and repurposed, the project paves a way for living without a drastic waste of resources.
Although Oceanix Busan is a city designed to be environmentally friendly, it is also one that aims to combat major environmental issues. The design and purpose highlight a major objective of the project — to confront the up-and-coming challenges of one of the most crucial current problems: climate change.
In the last 150 years, sea levels have risen by 20 to 22 centimeters and are expected to rise an alarming 30 centimeters more by 2050. As a result, most islands and low-lying coastal cities will be under serious danger with the communities that reside in these areas needing somewhere to relocate.
Of course, the current objective should be to lessen the effects of climate change so that humanity never ends up in a scenario that would require man-made islands; however, mankind also has to be prepared for such a future, as there is not much time left to stop the change from happening.
Busan’s Oceanix has been a needed first step towards thinking about the future, but it is almost certain that the idea of the project will have to develop further plans across the globe if temperatures continue to rise at the pace that has been observed in the past.