New York 2008


DATE : 2008

TITLE : "Floating a solution to rising sea levels"

JOURNALIST : Lisa Selin Davis and alisa Opar


Floating a solution to rising sea levels

For those of you worried about our eventual loss of land due to global warming— Robert Correll, chairman of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, estimates the mighty ocean could rise six feet by the year 2100—this development should soothe your anxiety: the Lilypad. Its architect, Vincent Callebaut, calls it “a floating ecopolis for climate refugees.”

Callebaut is no writer—“New biotechnological prototype of ecologic resilience dedicated to the nomadism and the urban ecology in the sea,” is how he describes the project—but he’s certainly a visionary. Lilypad, he says, “travels on the water line of the oceans, from the equator to the poles following the marine streams warm ascending of the Gulf Stream or cold descending of the Labrador.” It’s a mobile home of the aquatic variety.

The structure looks like a spaceship/houseboat, a saucer bobbing on the water with gardens blooming above it, but it’s really a floating city. The Lilypad, Callebaut says, can hold 50,000 people. It’s kind of like an atoll, with the flora and fauna inhabiting a “central lagoon of soft water.”

Yes, the comparisons to Noah are inevitable, and we may be reenacting that Biblical tale more than we know. Essentially, God was displeased with Man, who ate from the tree of knowledge, killed siblings, and generally wreaked havoc on his beautiful creation, the earth. So God decided to wipe it all out and start again, and he chose Noah to rescue the best specimens to populate the new world.

Which makes me wonder who and what would be allowed onto the Lilypad, a kind of ocean-centric Biosphere. All those animals with no predators? Lime disease-toting deer on a sea-bound ring? And, hey, what happens when a tropical storm hits?

Callebaut is still working out the details. In the meantime, floating homes—yes, what used to be called houseboats—are popular as ever, and other flood-prone countries are trying their own hands at water-top homes. Okay, they’re not cities, but in case of heavy rain, they’ll do.


PHONE : 0033.
Vincent Callebaut Architectures
2, rue de la Roquette
75011 Paris


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