Imagine the implications of urban sprawl if we had begun building out into the ocean in the ‘50s? Well, as our world population rises and developed land in cities and surrounding zones becomes more and more scarce, we are starting to see ocean sprawl becoming more popular all over the globe. We are already seeing this with the development in the United Arab Emirates and the overzealous and outrageously expensive projects there and around Abu Dhabi. They are essentially pouring mounds of sand into the ocean to create new “luxury” land and resort destinations. This is an image of the man made palm in Dubai’s Persian Gulf constructed for the Palm Island Resort. “When completed, the resort will sport 2000 villas, 40 luxury hotels, shopping centers, cinemas, and other facilities.” With these new types of developments this idea of vacationing on/in the ocean without actually needing to leave land is growing in demand.
I just found out about this floating hotel in the Archipelago de las Guaitecas in Chile. Designed by Sabbagh Architects, this construction is a 4 room hotel that floats on concrete blocks measuring 14×9 meters. The architects initial challenge was to design hotels or habitats that gave function to optimal conditions of remote places. Interestingly their first idea was to create modules made of earth to construct and place in remote areas on land, but the resistance they experienced along the lines of using protected land was strong. This pushed their direction outward to the next obvious place on earth we rarely inhabit- the sea.
I am not writing to necessarily highlight the architectural and structural feats accomplished in these floating home projects, but I am challenging you to consider the implications of making the ocean a home. Houseboats and yaughts are not new living situations but there is a very specific lifestyle that accompanies these habitats. There are also some sacrifices that those who choose this lifestyle make. Conversely, these new luxury floating hotels and homes make it a seamless transition from land living to ocean living.
When the oceans and seawater covers about 71% of the earth’s surface it is no wonder we are finally clueing into the idea of utilizing that surface area. But what will happen to the sea level if we start displacing water with literally massive structures and new islands on/in it? The rising sea level has already posed a threat to our precious and populous coastal cities. What is the next set of threats?