by Otilia Drăgan

“Floating infrastructure” and “waterborne urbanism” sound like things from a Sci-Fi movie, but they are being brought to life in a truly groundbreaking project. The world’s first floating city that’s also 100% sustainable was announced a couple of years ago, and its future design was recently unveiled.

As it is in most cases, while some are lobbying for a return to minimalistic, simple dwellings that are as close to nature as possible, others are taking a radically opposite approach, envisioning futuristic urban communities that are unlike anything that’s been done before. Neom is one of the most recent projects of this kind, which is currently being built in the Tabuk province of Saudi Arabia. 

But there’s no other floating city concept except for Oceanix Busan. UN-Habitat, the Busan Metropolitan City of the Republic of Korea, and Oceanix (a New York-based blue technology company) teamed up to create this futuristic city that is by no means a simple experiment, but a potential solution to a very serious problem. 

Land shortages and climate change are threatening the population of coastal cities. Rising sea levels and flooding are some of the most pressing issues that are affecting mega-cities around the world and the people who live there.

In 2019, the partners decided to build a prototype with the help of a host city. Busan signed on in 2021. It’s the second-largest city in the Republic of Korea and one of the most important maritime cities in the world. The BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group and SAMOO (Samsung) are the project’s lead architects, which unveiled the design at the Second UN Roundtable on Sustainable Floating Cities.

Oceanix will initially accommodate 12,000 people, but it’s meant to grow organically and eventually become the home of 100,000 people. Each floating platform is connected to the land via link-span bridges. They will integrate seamlessly with dozens of greenhouses and other productive outposts.

The community is also meant to be completely sustainable, so it will feature zero waste and circular systems closed-loop water systems while generating all the emissions-free energy it needs. This pioneering prototype will unfold over 15.5 acres (6.2 hectares), with each neighborhood dedicated to a certain sector, such as lodging and research.