Maldives Floating City / Handout

Maldives - The World’s First True Floating Island City Could Reimagine Survival

As the sea level rises, islands have to act fast—or else. This ambitious experiment may be the way forward.

Last month, government officials in the island nation of the Maldives officially unveiled plans to build the first fully floating island city of its kind. Could the ambitious experiment be a blueprint for how we’ll live in the future as climate change continues to raise the global sea level?

As “arguably the lowest-lying country in the world,” according to NASA—the average elevation is just 3.3 feet above sea level—the Maldives, an island republic in the northern Indian Ocean, will soon have to rely on sustainable housing. In virtually any simulation of the near future, the over 1,000 individual islands that make up the Maldives will be some of the first to disappear below the rising sea level.

Enter the floating city, appropriately called Maldives Floating City (MFC), which will be built in a lagoon just minutes from Male, the capital of the Maldives. MFC’s designers—the Netherlands-based Dutch Docklands, the global leader in floating infrastructure—say the floating city’s shape, a series of honeycomb-like hexagonal maze rows, is supposed to resemble coral.

The system of floating rows is anchored to a ring of islands that form the base and also the stabilizing breaker wall for all the structures—the primary reason for placing MFC in an ideally suited small lagoon. More from the press release:

While MFC floats up top, island barriers around the lagoon will serve as breakers down below. This ingenious configuration lessens the impact of lagoon waves while stabilizing the structures and complexes on the surface.

The whole city is about three-quarters of a square mile, or 200 hectares, with low-slung residential buildings and commercial amenities built on separate structures. The designers say the MFC complex hearkens back to the history of seafaring culture and local architecture in the Maldives.

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