Danish architect —founder and creative partner of his eponymous firm, BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group)—is well known for projects that defy convention. Perhaps you’ve heard of his ambitious Mars Science City, which, as its name suggests, is to be a man-made ecosystem designed for the colonization of the red planet. (He’s also responsible for buildings that have already been built, such as the glass-shard-shaped Via 57 West in Midtown Manhattan and the new home for chef René Redzepi’s Noma restaurant in Copenhagen.) However, on this side of the earth’s atmosphere, Ingels' latest project, Oceanix City, is equally convention-defying. The 124-acre city will be the world’s first sustainable floating community (that can be deployed to a coastal megacity facing coastal erosion and flooding) with a man-made ecosystem designed to adapt organically over the course of time.
Ingels’s hexagonal world on the ocean’s surface comprises individual units that are systematically combined to create a city. Here’s how the building blocks break down: Neighborhoods are built for up to 300 residents. Then, six neighborhoods are clustered together to create a village. Finally, six villages are connected to form a city housing up to 10,000 residents. At the heart of the city lies a protected central harbor, where social, recreational, and commercial functions take place. Each neighborhood is designed to prioritize communal farming and locally sourced materials for building construction. At the outset, Oceanix City sounds like a utopian dream, but it’s also highly pragmatic. In an age when rising seas pose a threat to coastal cities across the globe—including Africa, Southeast Asia, and northern Europe—BIG proposes an almost ironic solution: a city on the sea.