Dutch Engineers Design "Floating Mega-Cities" To Fight Rising Sea Levels

An artist's impression of the floating 'mega-city'. MARIN

Few countries could say they do flood and water management better than the Dutch. They are an extremely low-lying country (the Netherlands literally means low country), with two-thirds of the population living below sea level. Now, on the front line of the world's rising sea-levels, the need for innovation in this field is all the more important.

Dutch engineers from the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN) have unveiled their new concept of floating mega-islands.


In the decades to come, they hope these islands could reach up to 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) in area, stationing a city-sized settlement of homes, farms, parks, recreational areas, and ports. It would also be extremely helpful for sustainable energy projects that require access to the sea, such as offshore wind farms, tidal energy, wave energy, floating solar panels etc. 

MARIN has created a prototype of the design out of 87 large floating triangles made out of wood and polystyrene that are connected to each other. Just as they would in the real-world, these triangles are tethered to the floor below. In a bid to entice investors this week, they tested it out in a water tank, complete with simulated wind and waves.

"In a time of rising sea levels, overpopulated cities, and an increasing number of activities at sea, raising dikes and spraying of sand may not be the most effective solution. Floating ports and cities are an innovative alternative that fits the Dutch maritime tradition," Olaf Waals, project manager and designer of the concept at MARIN, said in a statement translated via Google.

According to Dutch newspaper Telegraaf, the municipality of Haarlemmermeer and the Lelystad Airport have already been talking to MARIN about the development. However, the project still has to face some hurdles until it becomes reality. For example, is this safe? Could it affect the surrounding ecology? Is it economically viable? 

Nevertheless, Waals told AFP News Agency the institute is confident this could be feasible in 10 to 20 years.  

Faced with the challenges of rising sea levels and a lack of space, "the Netherlands will have to divert back towards the water," MARIN director Bas Buchner told the Telegraaf. "And we have always been pioneers in this fight."


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