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Research of possibility for the creation of floating cities in Greece

Conference Paper · June 2013


DOI: 10.13140/2.1.1474.1767

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Evangelia Marinou
Technological Educational Institute of Central Macedonia at Serres
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Research of possibility for the creation of floating cities in Greece
E. Marinou 1,2 *
1
Architectural office, Pigis 5 Str,54636, Thessaloniki, Greece
2
Department of Interior Architecture, Decoration and Design, Technological Educational Institution of
Serres, 62100, Serres, Greece

*Corresponding author: E-mail: marinoulia@yahoo.gr, Tel +30 2310 206718, mob+30 6974195523, Fax:
+30 23210 49217

Abstract
Floating structures can create a solution to the expansion of urban areas by exploiting the sea
surface while leaving the suburban green intact. The floating buildings can be constructed of
lightweight new technology materials, mounted on a platform and utilizing Renewable Sources of
Energy. The project of floating settlements or floating cities creates a clean energy solution by
limiting urban sprawl at the expense of suburban green areas and depends on the use of ecological
ways of producing energy. Cores of floating buildings or floating cities can be designed to the
criteria of economy of space, autonomy in energy and protection from the particular sea
conditions. Projects of floating cities have already been designed, like “NOAH” and “Lilypad”.
Innovative projects such as those could be implemented in Greece as well, utilizing the long
coastal areas, and with proper urban planning studies
Keywords: Floating cities; ecology; renewable sources of energy; green architecture.

1. INTRODUCTION

The necessity to protect the natural environment becomes all the more imperative in the present
and even more so in the future if there is to be any hope for our planet. This endeavor, however, is
taking place in adverse circumstances such as the increase in earth's population (resulting in the
expansion of urban areas in use) and the rise of people's living standards.

In order to protect the environment and to limit the effect of urban areas expansion at its expense,
it is necessary to seek alternative procedures for buildings construction and living conditions,
which vary depending on the location and culture of each place as well as on the technology and
manufacturing level of every era, and depend on local climatic, geographical and natural
conditions. This has been achieved so far either with the construction of multi-storey buildings
(skyscrapers) or more recently with constructions on artificial islands. Such constructions are the
skyscrapers dating from the last century up to the present day, and modern buildings on artificial
islands such as the Palm islands that have already been constructed and are inhabited in Dubai.

A similar but more affordable solution may consist of floating structures that meet the
aforementioned criteria. To that end, various research studies are being conducted about floating
structures on coasts, rivers, lakes and the sea.

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2. RESEARCH OF THE POSSIBILITY FOR CREATION OF FLOATING CITIES

2.1. Coastline
A country such as Greece, with an extensive coastline, is ideal for a serious effort to utilize the
shoreline by creating floating structures. These structures can be created on the sea surface and
near the shore thus making the most of the coastline whether close to urban centers or in a distance
to them. The boundaries of the floating settlements or cities, as well as the necessary infrastructure
networks, would be set in accordance to geo-morphological criteria. The cost of floating “real
estate” would be minimal; what is more, the construction cost of a floating building is less than
that of its conventional counterpart, with the added benefit of mild integration of the structure to
the natural environment according to specific criteria.

2.2. Shell of the building


We should start the description of a floating building by pointing out that it would be based on a
platform (raft), a structure that would float on the sea surface either anchored on the sea bed or
with additional mooring on land. The volume and area of the building would be developed on this
platform, with all the necessary support elements, as well as the surrounding space designed to
offer a pleasant and high level of comfortable and healthy living to its residents. The structure and
the shell would be made of light and new technology materials whose basic characteristic would
be durability through time and also the essential specifications and endurance to withstand the
difficult conditions and the needs created by the marine environment and its peculiarities.

2.3. Renewable sources of energy


The cities should be both energy-autonomous and energy-sufficient. The production of energy
could happen with a three-pronged exploitation of solar energy, wind energy and sea wave energy
to generate electricity.

The floating buildings could achieve self-efficiency as far as energy is concerned with the
utilization of wave energy – possibly by the application of the "PowerBuoy" system, which is a
kind of pump that is "anchored" at the sea bottom and exploits the tidal movement of water. The
use of wind energy could be achieved with a small horizontal axis wind turbine, one that can
easily fit in with the morphology of the building in order to create an aesthetically pleasing result.
Solar energy could be exploited by the application of solar panels, either flexible or rigid
(photovoltaic systems). These Renewable Energy Systems could be used independently or
combined, rendering the building independent and thus superior- energy and energy conservation-
wise to a conventional building. By ensuring sufficiency in energy production, it would be made
possible to design complexes, settlements and even floating cities utilizing different ways of
producing energy.

Last but not least, the water supply system could use to a great extent sea water that has been
through a desalination process. The sewerage network should be designed so that waste is
channeled to the sea after appropriate treatment.

2.4. Ecology
Cities in their modern form, tend to increase in area at the expense of suburban green. In order to
expand the city plan, deforestation happens more or less continuously, and this affects negatively
both the quality of the environment and the availability of free space. The quality of the air that we
breathe is constantly deteriorating thanks to the pollutants emitted by the combustion of raw and
other materials in order to produce electrical energy, heating energy, etc.

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The urban project of floating cities is a clean energy solution. Emissions are reduced through the
use of clean and environmentally friendly energy sources that abound in nature; at the same time,
the suburban green areas are left undisturbed, since urban expansion takes places on the sea, a
hitherto unexploited area. Simply by taking advantage of the sea surface to develop new city areas
means that we no longer have to interfere with the natural environment and damage it through
deforestation.

2.5. Floating cities


The urban design of floating cities should take into account the particular climatic conditions, the
safety of the city's residents and providing independence as far as needs and services are
concerned. As the floating cities will be located in a marine environment, provisions should be
made on how to meet the needs of the residents while also offering protection from adverse
weather conditions.

Guidelines for the design of such a city could include:


Multilevel spaces, possibly with different uses at each level, would ensure ample area for the city's
development and also create a sense of comfort, security and freedom of movement to its
residents. The different uses would be contingent on the level and use of the buildings. Common
areas for recreation and relaxation should be accessible to all residents; likewise with spaces of
healthcare, security, education, local administration etc. On the other hand, there should also be
autonomy for private residences, so that every tenant would have their own apartment where they
could live their life with privacy.

Energy production and efficiency, with the application of alternative and seasonal systems of
energy production. Solar and wind energy, i.e. mild energy sources that are now widely applied, as
well as sea wave energy, are sources of energy that with the proper design could provide the whole
city complex with self-sufficiency.

Protection from the specific weather and environmental conditions of microclimate prevailing in
marine and coastal areas. It is important that the design of a city makes provisions to protect it
from the sun, the waves, and also in case of extreme weather phenomena.

These cities need careful and diligent planning to cope with the specific particular and difficult sea
conditions. In brief, conditions influenced by winds, strong waves, the coexistence of structural
materials with salt water, the continuous humidity, high temperatures from sunlight and heat and
glare etc. As a result it is imperative to carefully research the form and materials in order to meet
the basic standards of urban composition and aesthetics, while the structure as a shell would still
be able to withstand the special microclimate conditions created in coastal regions of our country.
The aim is to meet the requirements, needs and comfort of the residents who choose this solution
of a floating city, fulfilling at the same time all the conditions for high living standards with a
significantly lower environmental and financial cost.

An easier and more effective implementation of this proposal would initially be to build cores of
floating houses, settlements in a pilot role, that would then be expanded and enriched in building
programs in order to take the form of cities. More platforms could be added that would
complement the city uses, such as those of education, commerce, entertainment, work, etc.

Floating complexes could be located near major urban centers and could become an extension of
land cities. This makes it possible to expand and create new complexes adjacent to major cities
while at the same time preserving the suburban green. Furthermore, the inhabitants of the floating
blocks would have direct communication with the infrastructure of the city and, conversely,

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residents of the city on land can visit the floating block model. Besides, a basic criterion of
floating cities is the possibility of contact with the inhabitants of land so that they can cover all
their needs, such as work. With the proper urban design these cities can become an expansion of
the main land city or become suburban satellite cities.

3. EXAMPLES OF FLOATING CITIES

The origins of this research are based on existing examples of city planning in the sea and in rivers
such as the “NOAH” city – acronym for “New Orleans Arcology Habitat” – designed by Kevin
Shcopfer. [1]

This pyramid shaped city is designed to create an “ark” for the elderly and the low-income
families affected by the hurricane “Katrina”. As Kevin Schopfer said “NOAH is a proposed urban
arcology (architecture and ecology) whose philosophic underpinnings rest in combining large
scale sustainability concentrated urban structures, and in this case, a floating city.” [2]. According
to the plan, the city will be placed opposite the central business district of New Orleans. It will
consist of 20.000 houses, three hotels, a shopping center, offices, clinics, casinos and cultural
facilities designed to meet the needs of residents. It has also got built-in facilities that use
environmentally friendly energy sources and a water recycling system. The design goal of this city
is to have a multi-use diversity of services and be able to withstand extreme weather conditions
such as hurricanes.

Figure 1. The “NOAH” city (http://www.dvice.com/archives/2009/08/gigantic-arcolo.php


accessed February 15 2013)

Another example of a floating city is the one called “Lilypad- a Floating Ecopolis for Climate
Refugees” designed by Vincent Callebaut [3]. This city is inspired by “the highly ribbed leaf of the
Amazonia Victoria Regia water lily” [4]. “Lilypad” can accommodate about 50.000 people. It

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consists of three marinas, three mountains, and an artificial pond which serves simultaneously as a
water recycling system. The overall structure of the city is covered by green on both the walls and
roofs. Specifically, the top portion is covered in grass, the inner portion contains an oasis of palm
trees and the lower part of the city contains sea plankton and ocean plants.

The city shell is made to withstand Ultraviolet radiation and incorporates photovoltaic systems and
wind turbines for power generation. It is designed to withstand the upcoming climate changes,
such as the rise of the sea level, and strives to provide autonomy in energy, food and activities to
the residents being, as much as possible, a “self-sufficient ocean-going eco-city island” [5].
According to the inspirer of this city, it is expected to be implemented about the year 2100.

In more detail, the designs of the levels are:

Figure2: The main deck with three marinas, the submarine Performing Arts centre and the
gardens of phytopurification (http://www.beautifullife.info/urban-design/lilypad/ accessed
February 28 2013)

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Figure3: The three mountains are ecological niches, aquaculture fields and biologic corridors
(http://www.beautifullife.info/urban-design/lilypad/ accessed February 28 2013)

Figure 4: The floating structure in “branches” of the Ecopolis inspired of the highly ribbed leaves
of the giant lilypad of the Amazonia Victoria Regia. (http://www.beautifullife.info/urban-
design/lilypad/ accessed February 28 2013)

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Figure 5: Entirely self-sufficient, Lilypad takes up the four main challenges launched by the
OECD in March 2008 : climate. (http://www.beautifullife.info/urban-design/lilypad/ accessed
February 28 2013)

4. CONCLUSIONS

Given the present situation of ever-increasing degradation of the atmosphere (low quality of urban
air, deforestation of suburban green areas, etc) and anticipating the days to come, floating cities
could be the future of the extension and expansion of urban centers. They comprise clean,
ecological solutions with zero energy consumption. If designed properly to begin with, in a way
that they can meet the needs of a modern lifestyle, and provide the necessary infrastructures while
also being able to address the difficulties mentioned earlier, floating structures – either connected
to the coastal zone or independent and autonomous, either having a large surface or being smaller
and more versatile – can be implemented in the near future.

The existing proposals of floating cities are large volume structures developed in the waterfront or
freely floating in the oceans. In Greece, exploiting both the length of coastline and the abundance
of benefits in renewable forms of energy (due to climate) it is time to turn to coastal floating
buildings targeted towards the expansion of cities to the sea.

This can obviously be achieved only by proper urban planning studies that will adjust floating
building blocks to the existing urban fabric of the city, without altering the natural environment of
the coastal zone. On the contrary, they should give the sense of an island that has the ability to
change position over time depending on the functions of the city.

References

1. http://www.dvice.com/archives/2009/08/gigantic-arcolo.php (accessed February 15 2013)


2. http://www.designboom.com/architecture/e-kevin-schopfer-noah-new-orleans-arcology-habitat/
(accessed February 16 2013)

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3. http://vincent.callebaut.org/planche-lilypad_pl05.html (accessed February 10 2013)
4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floating_ecopolis (accessed February 10 2013)
5. http://www.beautifullife.info/urban-design/lilypad/ (accessed February 28 2013)

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