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In the Fight Against Rising Sea Levels, a Floating City In The Maldives


Indian Ocean vacation destination The Maldives, is the latest to design a future-proofed floating city concept meant to protect residents from the impact of climate change.

The Netherlands-based Architecture firm Waterstudio has designed the city, dubbed Maldives Floating City, which will be able to house 20,000 residents in a lagoon off the islands in the Indian Ocean. Construction is expected to begin later this year for the city, which will be complete by 2027 and just a ten-minute boat from Male, Maldives’ capital city.

Last year, Bjarke Ingel’s Danish architecture firm BIG designed a floating city concept for coastal South Korea. But according to Waterstudio, this concept is unique.


“This first-of-its-kind island city offers a revolutionary approach to modern sustainable living perched against a backdrop of the azure Indian Ocean,” said the studio.

“It’s the world’s first true floating island city—a futuristic dreamscape finally poised to become reality.”

The city’s geometric shapes resemble a local coral species called brain coral. And when viewed from above the development will resemble a brain.

Maldives floating city concept
Maldives floating city concept | Waterstudio

The city concept includes 5,000 low-rise homes floating within the 200-hectare lagoon. Like other floating concepts, it’s designed to adjust to sea-level rise via the hexagonal-shaped floating platforms it rests on.

Dutch Docklands, the developer behind the project, says this is the first floating city design at this scale. It’s also the first to receive full government support.

“While attempts at floating cities have been tried before, none have featured Maldives Floating City’s most compelling selling points: full-scale technical, logistical and legal expertise,” the developer said.

The design builds on a growing number of sustainable city concepts. Last December, the U.N. announced the South Korea floating city would be livable by 2025. In May, designers released the Nexgen concept for the world’s first ‘climate-positive’ city located outside of Cairo. Last year, entrepreneur Marc Lore revealed his sustainable city project, Telosa.

Coral loss

The Maldive’s floating city will host artificial coral banks underneath the floating platforms to help increase natural coral growth.

The Maldives lost 60 percent of its surrounding coral reefs to bleaching in 2016. This loss puts the islands at an increased risk of sea-level rise. According to recent findings by the IPCC, rising global temperatures could mean devastation for 70 to 90 percent of the world’s coral structures by 2050.

Maldives floating city concept
Maldives floating city concept | Waterstudio

The residences will all be 100-square meters in size, with a jetty attached to the front, and a roof terrace. Prices for the homes are expected to start at $250,000. Floating alongside the residences will be houses, hotels, restaurants, shops, a hospital, school, and official government buildings.

“Inspired by traditional Maldivian sea-faring culture and developed in close cooperation with Maldivian authorities, Maldives Floating City homes will eventually be joined by hotels, restaurants, stylish boutiques and a world-class marina,” Dutch Docklands says.

The Maldives’ climate fight

The design comes as The Maldives has taken center stage in the fight against climate change. More than 80 percent of the island destination is less than three feet above sea level. It’s expected to be fully underwater before the end of the century.

The Maldives’ hotels and resorts have begun taking steps to protect the region from the impact of climate change, including conservation and research efforts targeting coral and other wildlife, as well as increased efforts on eco-tourism, and island-wide recycling efforts.

fairmont maldives
Courtesy Fairmont Maldives

The Fairmont Maldives, Sirru Fen Fushi, is home to the island chain’s first sustainability hub with plans to become the region’s leading plastic waste recycler. Many other destinations across the archipelago have launched projects to help support visitors and local residents feeling the impact of rising sea levels and biodiversity loss across the region.

“As a nation at the front lines of global warming, the Maldives is perfectly positioned to reimagine how humankind will survive—and, indeed, thrive—in the face of rising seas and coastal erosion,” said the Dutch Docklands.

“Our islands are slowly being inundated by the sea, one by one,” Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the president of The Maldives, said during the COP26 climate summit last November. “If we do not reverse this trend, The Maldives will cease to exist by the end of this century.”


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