Floating cities are one solution for overpopulated areas where inhabitable land is dwindling—and according to The Seasteading Institute, a floating frontier could be a reality as early 2020.

The Seasteading Institute and DeltaSync have conducted extensive research for the past five years to determine how possible a permanent, sustainable community floating at sea might be. Phase one of the Floating City Project includes a detailed report that demonstrates the feasibility of a floating city (complete with construction cost breakdown, target markets, and potential locations), and a summary of their goals clearly identifies their rationale for attempting to construct such an unusual utopia:

The Floating City Project combines principles of both seasteading and startup cities, by seeking to locate a floating city within the territorial waters of an existing nation. Historically, The Seasteading Institute has looked to international waters for the freedom to establish new nations and spur competitive governance from the outside. However, there are several reasons we are now seeking a host nation: a) It is less expensive to engineer a seastead for relatively calm, shallow waters compared with the open ocean outside of territorial waters; b) it will be easier for residents to travel to and from the seastead, as well as to acquire goods and services from existing supply chains; and c) a host nation will provide a place for a floating city within the existing international legal framework, with the associated protections and responsibilities.

The organization launched an architectural design contest in May, calling architects, engineers, designers, and students across the globe to submit plans for a mixed-use development homestead with at least 10 platforms. Registration for the contest will close May 28, 2015, and submissions will be judged against their visionary power, architectural quality, sustainability, survivability, feasibility and practicality, and financial pragmatism.

Some requirements of project submissions include:

  • buildings may not exceed 3-stories
  • structures may not exceed 80% of the platform, leaving 20% clear for walkways/gardens/outdoor space
  • designs must take weather challenges into account: wave action/severe ocean storms
  • entries must include one 3D perspective of the whole city, one sample floor plan, and one overall vertical section that includes the platform

Submissions from previous seasteading design contest winners below showcase how different the requirements of this contest are compared to previous years, and that the organization is searching for more realistic city renderings that might actually sustain an oceanic environment.
Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 9.32.42 AM
SESO Seastead, by Marko Jarvela (Aesthetics winner)

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 9.42.54 AM
Rendering Freedom, by Anthony Ling (Personality winner)

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 9.43.57 AM
Oasis of the Sea, by Emerson Stepp (Best Picture winner)

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 9.45.02 AM
The Swimming City, by Andras Gyorfi (Overall winner)