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Floating cities may be habitats of the future

posted 2 May 2011, 16:57 by Mpelembe   [ updated 2 May 2011, 16:59 ]
As our planet becomes more crowded, city planners and architects are trying to come up with new ideas for future human habitation. We've seen biospheres and proposals for underground housing, but now one Boston-based architectural firm has come up with a conceptual plan that envisages cities that float. Ben Gruber has more.
REUTERS / TANGRAM - This is a glimpse of what may be the future of urban living.

It's called NOAH, a fully sustainable floating habitat designed to support thousands of people.

The idea comes from achitect Kevin Schopfer, who says he was inspired by the destruction of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He says NOAH is an example of arcology, a design incorporating the principles of architecture with ecology.


"I began thinking seriously about the notion on how you combine arcology and the technology of floating cities, what should they be? What would they be?"

NOAH would sit on a barge on the river. It would be built from sustainable and recycled material and fitted with thousands of solar panels and wind turbines to generate its own energy.


"You are as driven to sustainable perfection as you can be and you try every move to make sure that what, the materials you use and how you use them are reacting the right way with the environment."

Schopfer is employing those same design principles in an another disaster-inspired project, a conceptual habitat he calls Harvest City. In January, 2010 a massive earthquake levelled Port au Prince, the capital of Haiti, leaving more than 300,000 people dead and millions homeless. Harvest City, says Schofer, would float in the bay of Port au Prince as a temporary home for the displaced and centre for commerce.


"In the situation of Haiti, it allows Haiti to breathe a little and give people a place to go while they are re-growing things on land. It creates a new industry, which it would, an ongoing industry and it creates a very safe haven, if you will for schools and ect. So it is starting a new fresh out here without having to rebuild internally."

Harvest city would be three 3 kilometres wide and comprise farm land, residential areas, and markets, all connected by canals. Like NOAH, Harvest City would be based around sustainability. The design calls for clean energy generation, rainwater collection depots and desalination plants to make water fitr for for farming and human consumption.

Schopfer's ideas have received mixed reviews. Many applaud the designs on paper, but some critics say they belong in the realm of science fiction.

As for Schopfer, he believes the kind of self-sustaining future described by his arcological designs, will arrive sooner than the critics realise.

Ben Gruber, Reuters