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Lilypad - the floating ecopolis for climate refugees

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How will our coastal cities look like when the ice melts and causes rising sea levels? How can we take care and give room for the millions of climate change refugees in the future? Well, the Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut might have the answer.

Vincent Callebaut has designed a “floating ecopolis” called Lilypad. Each of these floating cities has room for 50000 people. The city will be able to generate its own energy with the help from several wind turbines, wave power and solar panels. Lilypad will also be able to collect and clean rainwater for daily use around the city.

“Whereas the Netherlands and the United Arabic Emirates « fatten » their beach with billion of euros to build their short-living polders and their protective dams for a decade, the project «Lilypad» deals with a tenable solution to the water rising! Actually, facing the worldwide ecological crisis, this floating Ecopolis has the double objective not only to widen sustainabely in offshore the territories of the most developed countries such as the Monaco principality but above all to grant the housing of future climatic refugees of he next submerged ultra-marine territories such as the Polynesian atolls. New biotechnological prototype of ecologic resilience dedicated to the nomadism and the urban ecology in the sea, Lilypad 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 is a true amphibian half aquatic and half terrestrial city, able to accommodate 50,000 inhabitants and inviting the biodiversity to develop its fauna and flora around a central lagoon of soft water collecting and purifying the rain waters. This artificial lagoon is entirely immersed ballasting thus the city. It enables to live in the heart of the subaquatic depths. The multifunctional programming is based on three marinas and three mountains dedicated respectively to the work, the shops and the entertainments. The whole set is covered by a stratum of planted housing in suspended gardens and crossed by a network of streets and alleyways with organic outline. The goal is to create a harmonious coexistence of the couple Human / Nature and to explore new modes of living the sea by building with fluidity collective spaces in proximity, overwhelming spaces of social inclusion suitable to the meeting of all the inhabitants – denizen or foreign-born, recent or old, young or aged people.”

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First impressions is that this is a good idea.


1. Building these things will require time, politicians never think of beyond the next opinion poll, never mind next week.

2. They would be built cheap, and could easily become undesirable places to live, and what work and leisure activities would there be? Makes me think of the ships on Battle Star Galactica, that you never saw, often, where people festered in poverty with nothing to do.

3. We deal badly with refugees at present. Would there be enough pads, at great expense for every climate refugee, or would there be a controled entry, "deserving" and "non-deserving" refugee (which could become very racially/cultually orientated/devisive), or will refugees have to pay to escape the floods?

Its all very scary. Just makes me think of how short sighted we actually are as a society.

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