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Oceanix Busan
Image: OCEANIX/BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group

South Korea is getting the world’s first floating city

Oceanix Busan will house up to 12,000 people

Ed Cunningham
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Ed Cunningham
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Faced with bleak predictions of rising sea levels and dire threats to communities around the world, one ambitious concept has lurked in the background  floating cities, the idea that we can build huge waterborne communities to replace ever-sprawling suburbs. After all, if you’re floating, who needs to worry about rising sea levels?

And now it seems the concept could soon become a reality. Oceanix Busan is a collaboration between tech firm OceanixUN-Habitat and the city of Busan, South Korea. And Oceanix Busan isn’t some fanciful vision of a distant future. It’s set to begin construction in 2023. That’s right. Next year.

Oceanix is being designed by BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group and SAMOO. Its renders show a cluster of floating ‘neighbourhoods’, each one linked to the others – and the mainland – by a series of bridges. Oceanix claims that its Busan settlement will be the first of its kind in the world, and potentially act as the blueprint for how coastal cities can adapt to rising sea levels.

Spread over 6.3 hectares, Oceanix Busan will initially house a community of 12,000 people, though Oceanix claims the city might one day have the capacity for a population of 100,000. It’ll start off with three neighbourhoods, each with its own mixed-use spaces for living and working, as well as dedicated public areas for art, shopping and eating out. The settlement will mostly consist of low-rise buildings, which are easier to evenly balance. Here are a few renders:

Oceanix Busan
Image: OCEANIX/BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group
Oceanix Busan
Image: OCEANIX/BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group
Oceanix Busan
Image: OCEANIX/BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group

Aside from providing tens of thousands of people with climate-change-proof homes, Oceanix Busan will also be impressively eco-friendly. With pretty much all of its surfaces covered in solar panels, the firm says all energy will be generated on site. The settlement will also treat and replenish its own water from the surrounding sea, and have large areas and greenhouses dedicated to growing crops.

When construction of Oceanix Busan breaks ground (or perhaps breaks water?) next year, plenty of the site will be built using lightweight, locally sourced – and, obviously, totally renewable – timber. It’s being built in Busan’s north port.

While the designs look a little fantastical at the moment, it’ll be interesting to see how Oceanix Busan plays out. The UN reckons that more than 600 million people live less than ten metres above sea level. If all goes well, Oceanix could be a solution for millions. 

You can find out more about the project here.

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