A Survey of Futuristic Floating Cities


Peter Drucker, one of the greatest business thinkers of our time and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, predicted that “aquaculture, not the Internet, represents the most promising investment opportunity of the 21st century.”

Floating cities might seem like something straight out of the science fiction book you picked up at the airport on a whim and couldn’t finish, but the concept may just save our world’s coastal dwelling, climate-affected souls. Because rising sea levels and extreme weather have become more common than not, we thought we’d take a look at some of the most interesting water-based design ideas out there. From an elegant urban solution mimicking lily pads that houses 50,000 people to a wetropolis that naturally filters its own water supply, click through to check out innovative urban design for a more sustainable future.

Lilypad Amphibious City by Vincent Callebaut

Images via Create your Cosmos

Floating cities mimicking nature’s most beautiful amphibious plant — the lily pad — can house up to 50,000 people, which as Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut states, “could be people that have lost their home in a traditional city through a natural disaster.” The cities have zero emissions and process carbon dioxide from the atmosphere using energy from the sun, wind, and tidal waves.

Wetropolis by S+PBA – Bangkok, Thailand

Images via ClickRally

Weaving the reality of the environment into their design, Wetropolis is literally grounded in mangroves and indigenous plants that naturally filter water, supply fresh oxygen, and combat global warming by cooling surrounding waters. The design includes plans for sustainable shrimp farming — a big part of the local micro-economy — and community housing.

Seascraper by William Erwin and Dan Fletcher

Images via eVolo

Located where deep sea currents provide a dependable source of power (ie. the Gulf Stream), the seascrapers also have a photovoltaic skin to capture sun rays. The concave shape collects and processes rainwater, and freshwater is crated in a lower level desalination plant. Long tubes extending down from the base help create a natural reef system that encourages the growth of phytoplankton, an essential component of healthy marine habitats.

Waterscraper by Mathias Koester

Image via National Geographic

More luxury destination than aquatic scientific laboratory, the Waterscraper drifts casually from one destination to the next. Beaches, restaurants, a marina, and a dive center would cater to luxury-apartment dwellers and hotel guests.

Harvest City by Kevin Schopfer – Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Images via TheCityFix

Profiled as a “key player in Haiti’s recovery” and developed by Boston-based architect E. Kevin Schopfer and Tangram 3DS, Harvest City is a collection of man-made “islands,” or floating modules, spanning two miles, that would be secured to the bottom of the ocean by a cable designed to withstand hurricanes and typhoons. The city would be dedicated mostly to farming, with one-third of the economy involved in “light industry.” Schopfer says he also hopes that Harvest City will be established as a “charter city,” which would serve “as an example of a new and advanced economic model specifically developed for struggling nations.”

Oasis of the Sea by Emerson Stepp

Image via The Seasteading Institute

Taking the idea of an island oasis to another level entirely, this concept was one of the winners of the Seasteading Institute Design Contest. Like something straight out of a Wes Anderson movie, the Seasteading Institute is an organization working towards furthering the establishment and growth of permanent, autonomous ocean communities, enabling innovation with new political and social systems.

Swimming City by András Györfi

Image via The Seasteading Institute

Another Seasteading Institute Design Contest winner, this concept combines the small-town charm of a provincial Dutch town with a floating cityscape.

Green Float with botanical cities by Shimizu

Images via Shimizu Corporation

Designed for the equatorial Pacific and the imaginary world we most want to live in, Green Float is a concept for a series of floating islands with eco skyscraper cities, where people live, work and have easy access to gardens, open space, the beach and even “forests.”

Boston Arcology by Kevin Schopfer – Boston, Massachusetts

Images via Fast Company; ARCHIVENUE

Boston Arcology is a conceptual floating city within a city that can house 15,000 people in a sprawling mass of hotels, shops, offices, museums, and condos. The LEED-certified structure, built on a concrete platform, will also have sky gardens on every floor of the 30-story central tower to promote a sense of community. The whole thing will be carbon neutral thanks to a series of wind turbines, fresh water recovery and storage systems, passive glazing system, sky garden heating and cooling vents, gray water treatment centers, solar arrays, and harbor based water turbines.

New Orleans Arcology Habitat by Kevin Schopfer – New Orleans, Louisiana

Images via Private Island Blog

This floating city cum arc is a refuge for coastal city dwellers should a natural disaster hit. Designed to withstand even the most powerful of storms, the habitat boasts 20,000 residential units, three hotels, cultural spaces, public works, and 8,000 parking spaces (just in case you’re worried about your car in a time of crisis). The idea is that you could live your whole life in NOAH if you so chose.