Ocean Cities

An Ocean City or Floating City is a (part of a) city that is completely separate from the ground, floating on the water surface. The city can be built at sea, but can also be located in calmer inland waters. There are a number of major advantages to the principle of a floating city. People have lived on the water since time immemorial. Often they are built in the form of houseboats, but sometimes also in the form of whole floating cities, especially in areas with a lot of rainfall.

Floating Cities

Global warming is increasing the temperature of seawater and melting ice caps. The expanding seawater and melting of the ice on land cause the sea level to rise. A floating city is one of the possibilities for low-lying areas, such as parts of the Netherlands, Bangladesh, the US (New Orleans), to escape the consequences of the rising sea level. Because a floating city always floats on the surface of the water, there is no danger of flooding.

Due to the increase in population and with it the increase in buildings, there is a lack of space in some areas. By expanding the built-up area on the water, it is possible to leave more space open on land and thus give people and nature more room to live.

A major advantage of the floating city is the mobility of the "property". When, for example, the employer moves to another city, it is possible to choose to move house and all. This is a matter of finding a new berth in the new place of residence, hiring a tugboat and mooring it at the new location. The floating city could be built in the same way. The floating parts can all be built somewhere else and then sailed to their destination. This would avoid the inconvenience of construction work and building traffic at this location, which is often in the middle of a busy area.

A floating city could be self-sufficient. For example, the technological knowledge exists to convert wave energy into electricity. But other forms of energy generation are also possible, using a heat pump, solar panels and wind energy. The water on which the city floats could be turned into drinking water by means of a purification process.


Modern Floating Cities

  • Steigereiland, IJburg, Amsterdam
  • Floating recreation homes, Maasbommel
  • San Francisco Bay, Sausalito (California)
  • Floating villages in Lake TonlĂ© Sap, Cambodia
  • Lake Union, Seattle

Historic Floating Cities

  • Capital of the Aztec Empire: Tenochtitlan

Future Floating Cities

  • Seastead

Fictional Floating Cities

Ocean floating islands have been found in literature since Homer's The Odyssey, written around the end of the 8th century BC, which describes the island of Aeolian. They appear again in Pliny the Elder's Natural History of the 1st century AD.

Richard Head's 1673 novel The Floating Island describes the fictional island of Scotia Moria. In The Travels of Dr Doolittle, the characters sail to a floating island that later becomes motionless. In the DC comic about Wonder Woman, Themyscira is a group of floating islands. In Jules Verne's Propeller Island, the characters are on an artificial floating island, which is actually a huge ship. There is a floating island in Yann Martel's Life of Pi.


Extensive research into the possibilities of floating cities and buildings is currently underway. Two things are important here: Technical possibilities and financial feasibility.

Technical Possibilities

When building on water, it is very important that it remains afloat. Buoyancy and the prevention of sinking are therefore important issues when developing a floating city. A floating city must be able to cope with fluctuations in water level, but at the same time it must be fixed in a horizontal sense: it is not intended to sail at random. Skewing due to unbalanced loading is also a problem for which solutions are devised, such as a parking garage in the "basement" of a floating building that automatically distributes the weight by moving the cars.

In a way, foundations on water are much easier than on land. The load-bearing capacity of the soil layers does not have to be taken into account; after all, the load-bearing capacity of water is approximately the same everywhere. Only the structure used to anchor the floating city comes into contact with the ground. The floating city must also be connected to existing infrastructure, as people must be able to move from the floating city to the mainland. An obvious option here is transport by water. One condition for floating construction is the use of lightweight materials, otherwise the buildings will quickly become too heavy. Many lightweight materials have been developed, but due to small-scale production, they are often relatively expensive.

Ocean Colonisation

Ocean Colonisation is the theory and practice of permanent human settlements in the oceans. Such settlements can be seastead platforms floating on the water surface, or exist as safe underwater habitats on the ocean floor or in an intermediate position.

One of the primary goals of ocean colonisation is the expansion of the habitable area. Other possible benefits include expanded access to underwater resources, new forms of governance (e.g. micronations) and new recreational activities.

Lessons learned from ocean colonisation may be applicable to space colonisation. The ocean may prove simpler to colonise than space and therefore occur first, providing a testing ground for the latter. In particular, on the issue of sovereignty, there may be many similarities between ocean and space colonization; adjustments to social life under more severe circumstances would apply similarly to ocean and space; and many technologies may be useful in both environments


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Floating Architecture
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Ocean Architecture
Ocean Cities
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This page was last changed on 2021-09-21.