The world’s first sustainable floating city is set to be built in Busan, the United Nations’ human settlement program announced on Tuesday.
UN-Habitat unveiled a prototype design for the ambitious project at the U.N. headquarters in New York City.
The project, which aims to help coastal cities adapt to rising sea levels, was proposed in cooperation with the firm Oceanix and the South Korean port of Busan.
Officially named Oceanix Busan, the pilot project will house a population of 12,000 and will be composed of three interconnected island communities covering an area of 6.3 hectares (15.5 acres).
The smart city will have apartment buildings, markets, offices, parks, hydroponic farms and green energy grids, allowing it to self-generate 100 percent of its energy. It will also have closed looped systems that recycle waste and water.
The separate islands will each serve a specific purpose such as living, research and lodging. It will be built without roadways to make biking and walking the main forms of transportation.
Oceanix’s Chief Executive Philipp Hofmann said during a briefing that the prototype can be replicated in other locations as it “is applicable to any coastal environment, to any climate, and can be easily calibrated to their needs.”
UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif highlighted several factors to be considered such as the diversity in topography, local norms and cultural expression if the project is replicated elsewhere.
UN-Habitat explained that the project is a viable response to rising sea levels, noting that 90 percent of the world’s coastal cities are vulnerable to such issues.
“We joined forces with UN-Habitat and Oceanix to be the first to prototype and scale this audacious idea because our common future is at stake in the face of sea level rise and its devastating impact on coastal cities,” said Busan Mayor Park Heong-joon.
BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group and the South Korean firm SAMOO will serve as architects for the project. The first segment of the smart city will reportedly be ready by 2025.
“We are on track to deliver Oceanix Busan and demonstrate that floating infrastructure can create land for coastal cities looking for sustainable ways to expand onto the ocean,” said Hofmann.