This Self-Sustaining, Floating City Could Be Just What the World Needs

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A concept drawing of Oceanix City
Each hexagonal platform in Oceanix City could house 300 people and operate like a village. Bjarke Ingels Group

In a world facing food scarcity, rising sea levels and looming natural disasters, hope may indeed float.

It may even look like this:

That's the concept for Oceanix City, a floating colony unveiled April 3 at a United Nations roundtable of builders, engineers and architects.

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Unlike similar ideas floated over the decades that have yet to see the light of day, this island, conceived by architect Bjarke Ingels in collaboration with Oceanix Inc, stands a good chance of becoming reality.

Especially with Maimunah Mohd Sharif, executive director of the U.N.'s Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat) backing the idea of floating cities,

"A thriving city has a symbiotic relationship with its water," he announced at the roundtable "And as our climate and water ecosystems are changing, the way our cities relate to water needs to change, too."

A concept drawing of Oceanix City
No building on the island will be higher than seven stories. Bjarke Ingels Group

And Oceanix City couldn't have a closer relationship to the water. Built as a series of hexagonal platforms, it would house about 10,000 people. No cars or trucks would be allowed on the island, although the designers have left the door open for driverless vehicles. Deliveries, via drones, may also be a future option.

"This doesn't look like Manhattan," Oceanix CEO Marc Collins reportedly told roundtable participants. "There are no cars."

A concept drawing of Oceanix City
Designers envision Oceanix City as a walker's paradise. Bjarke Ingels Group

Most importantly, the people who live in Oceanix City — with every hexagon supporting 300 residents who function as a village — would be self-sufficient.

The city would produce its own power, fresh water and heat.

Another key part of that autonomy would be the development of ocean farming — using cages beneath the platforms could harvest scallops, kelp and other seafood.

A concept drawing of Oceanix City
The city would grow all the food it needed, either on vertical farms or underwater. Bjarke Ingels Group

Fish waste would be used as crop fertilizer and year-round produce would be grown on vertical farms. Speaking of vertical, all buildings would be between four and seven stories tall in order to maintain a low center of gravity for the island.

Being able to withstand weather extremes is a key feature of the island's design. In addition to keeping a low center of gravity, an ultra-durable, self-repairing material called Biorock would cover the platforms, giving it the strength to hold fast under Category 5 hurricanes. And, since Oceanix City would always be anchored a mile off the coast of a major city, help isn't too far away.

In case of severe weather approaching, the entire city could be towed safely out of its path.

And being able to float, of course, gives Oceanix City a major advantage over its landlocked counterparts when it comes to the growing problem of rising sea levels.

A concept drawing of Oceanix City
Being able to float is a huge advantage for a city in times of rising sea levels. Bjarke Ingels Group

Naturally, no society can thrive if it hasn't figured out the fundamental question of what to do with its garbage. The answer, for Oceanix City, is to not make much of it all, but rather design everything so that it can be repaired and reused, What little waste residents produce would be sealed in reusable bags and shuttled down pneumatic tubes to a sorting center.

A concept drawing of Oceanix City
Floating habitats like Oceanix City might not be the future we expected, but they could be the one we need. Bjarke Ingels Group

Is this starting to sound like a pie-in-the-sea idea to you? Well, maybe it is.

But as Collins notes, there's growing will to make it happen. Especially as the world finds itself on increasingly uncertain footing.

"Everybody on the team actually wants to get this built," he tells Business Insider. "We're not just theorizing."