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- 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.