How do you build a seastead that is comfortable and safe in all sea conditions, yet is economical to build? This is
one of the biggest questions The Seasteading Institute’s engineering program seeks to answer.
Based on our research, we believe that many seasteading needs can be met with off-the-shelf technology. For example, we are not currently trying to innovate in areas such as water distillation or sanitation
services, since solutions have already been widely implemented in the shipping and cruise industries.
Our primary focus is on basic structure design
Seasteads should be:
able to survive a heavy storm
affordable to people with average incomes for developed nations
able to comfortably house an average family under most sea conditions
easily expandable as the population grows, allowing sections to join, separate and reconnect at will
To satisfy these four criteria, we are combining engineering principles that have been proven in other industries with the unique demands of seasteading. For example, our proof-of-concept “Clubstead” design draws upon well-established technologies from cruise ships, oil platforms and bridges.
The Case for Geopolymer Concrete in Seasteading
(Michael Eliot, Concrete Engineer/Seasteader) – Thousands of years ago the Romans built wooden ships. Steel became a favorite building material in modern times, but it is prone to rust even in the best of
circumstances. Then along came fiberglass, an inherently water-resistant material, extremely strong and lightweight, but expensive. Then came a brief craze for steel-reinforced concrete boats in the 1970’s, called ferrocement. Ferrocement construction techniques were popular due to the low price of concrete, but such boats
tended to only last a decade or so before water penetrated to the steel reinforcement, rusted it, leading to concrete failure and a sinking boat. This author argues that geopolymer concrete could last for
hundreds of years in contact with the sea, is as strong as modern concrete, and perfect for a seastead building material.
DeltaSync Design and Feasibility Study
DeltaSync completed their preliminary concept in December 2013, for a city composed of modular platforms – 50 x 50 meters, and estimated to cost approximately $15 million each. Concrete structures would be molded into sturdy hollow boxes, or “caissons,” and support three story buildings. The design takes into account apartments, terraced housing, office space, and hotels.
This concept also assesses a scaleable method of financing a breakwater, which could eventually surround the city and allow it to move out to the open ocean. While more in-depth engineering research is required, the preliminary analysis suggests feasibility.
Modular Seastead Design
(Lina Suarez, Engineering Intern) – 3D renderings were produced to conceptualize a modular, adaptable seastead, complete with a top-side crane mechanism for rearranging “modules” or residential units. The ability to easily enter or exit such a seastead configuration (i.e., “voting with your house”) is expected to enable greater freedom of choice and amplify the competitive pressures needed to spur governmental innovation. Lina Suarez, a student of Naval Architecture, produced the renderings under the guidance of our Director of Engineering, George Petrie.
Seasteading Energy Study: Evaluation of Sustainable Energy Options for a Small City-on-the-Sea
(Melissa Roth, George Petrie, and Dr. Ronald Willey) – The purpose of this document is to estimate and compare the energy costs in USD/kW and installation cost for ocean thermal energy conversion, solar, wind, and wave systems. Diesel generators were used as a baseline comparison. While it is not yet possible to design a specific seastead, the goal is to determine the feasibility of utilizing the aforementioned renewable energy sources on a seastead housing up to 1,000 people.
Parametric Analysis of Candidate Configurations for Early Seastead Platforms: Parts 1 & 2
(George L. Petrie, Director of Engineering, The Seasteading Institute, retired Professor of Naval Architecture) – This engineering analysis systematically evaluates several different seastead configurations (in a range of sizes) and to quantify their cost, capacity and performance, with emphasis on early seastead communities (as opposed to large future cities at sea).
Seasteading Location Study: Ship-Based and Large-Scale City Scenarios
(Shanee Stopnitzky, James Hogan, George Petrie, Elie Amar, Dario Mutabdzija, Max Marty and Rafa Gutierrez) – To determine the most promising locations for seastead communities, The Seasteading Institute has evaluated the entire ocean, based on a comprehensive set of criteria related to environmental, economic, legal and political considerations. Data sets for each criterion are presented in the form of color-coded heat maps depicting the desirability of possible locations for two different seastead scenarios: a small, ship-based seastead, and a large “Metropolistead,” or full-fledged city on the ocean. High resolution maps of the individual criteria, as well as aggregated maps, can be viewed here.
Seasteading Engineering Report: Floating Breakwater and Wave Power Generators
(Elie Amar and Jorge Suarez) – A breakwater is typically a pile of heavy materials that form an artificial barrier against the waves. Given the force of the waves hitting such a large structure, it makes sense to explore designs for breakwater that generate energy from the waves being blocked. This report is a survey of the breakwater and wave energy technologies currently developed or patented. A slide presentation of the report is available here (m4v video).
Medical Offshore Research Facility: Feasibility and Conceptual Design Study
(University of Houston Extreme Environment Design Team, with guidance from George Petrie) – These storyboards (#1, #2, #3, #4, #5) lay out a concept for a three-phase project, intended to culminate in the creation of a purpose-built semi-submersible floating community, offering an innovative cancer treatment not yet approved by United States regulators, along with a broad range of other facilities for researchers, staff, patients, full-time residents and vacationers. The students also produced a video with 3D renderings of what such a platform might look like, which can be viewed on YouTube.
Semi-Submersible Feasibility Study
(George L. Petrie, Director of Engineering, The Seasteading Institute, retired Professor of Naval Architecture) – One promising seastead design based in existing technology is the semi-submersible – a very stable floating platform, most often used in the offshore drilling industry. Our engineering team set out to determine the feasibility of this design for an early seastead platform in terms of costs and logistics, while factoring in the necessary amenities to sustain a small residential and commercial community.
In order to produce realistic estimates for the basic structure – the semi-submersible hull and deck structure – director of engineering George Petrie rendered a design based on industry standards, which was submitted to actual shipyards for estimates. In May 2013, we received a bid from a U.S. Shipyard located in Orange, Texas.
Establishing Offshore Autonomous Communities: Current Choices and Their Proposed Evolution
(Miguel Lamas Pardo) – This dissertation was presented as a requirement to obtain a Doctoral Degree in Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering. The objective is to provide an orderly framework around the idea of ocean colonization, defined as “the establishment of autonomous communities in the oceans aboard artificial platforms.” Additionally, it distinguishes four forms of ocean colonization for distinct purposes: 1) to expand landholdings; 2) to provide mobile settlements; 3) to allow for semi-permanent mobile settlements in order to access marine resources; 4) and for the creation of micronations. It is this fourth concept that will serve as a departing point to review the whole idea of oceanic colonization.
Seastead Location Study: Criteria
(Miguel Lamas Pardo, Luis Manuel Carral Cuece) – This paper considers the structures currently used in the
maritime and ocean industries to accommodate people in semi-permanent accommodation at sea: floating hotels,
Offshore and Coastal Floating Hotels: Flotels
(Miguel Lamas Pardo, Luis Manuel Carral Cuece) – This report lays out our criteria for judging potential seastead locations.
Seastead Engineering Report: Assumptions and Methodology
(Eelco Hoogendoorn) – This report lays out our criteria for judging new seastead designs.
Feasibility and Design of the Clubstead: A Cable-Stayed Floating Structure for Offshore Dwellings
(Alexia Aubault, Wendy Sitler-Roddier, Dominique Roddier, Patri Friedman, Wayne Gramlich) – An overview of a plan for a 200-guest hotel/resort, built to withstand the waves 200 nautical miles off the coast of Los Angeles.
Presentation PDF – Proceedings of the ASME 2010 29th International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering, OMAE2010, June 6-11, 2010, Shanghai, China.
ClubStead Design Page – This detailed page contains of the papers and results from the ClubStead study.
As part of our Floating City Project, we commissioned DeltaSync to conduct a design and concept for a small seastead village located within protected waters. Their report, which shows the general feasibility of such a village using existing technology, is available for download on the main Floating City Project page. The objective for the design component is to come up with something affordable, yet comfortable, which would appeal to a sufficient number of pioneers. (We expect the community to comprise a mixture of full-time and part-time residency, as well as timeshares.)
State of the Art of Oceanic Industry for the Establishment of Autonomous Ocean Communities (Miguel Lamas Pardo, Luis Manuel Carral Cuece, Patri Friedman), 49th Congress of Naval Architecture and Maritime
Industry “Oceanic Industry, Sustainability,Technology and Innovation”, Bilbao (Spain), October 21 and 22, 2010.
This paper surveys the economic, legal, and engineering challenges for a variety of proposed seastead
architectures. Includes discussion of flotels, VLFS (Very Large Floating Structures), and residential cruise
ships, as well as previous attempts to build ocean communities.
Seasteading and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and Classification Societies
(Miguel Lamas Pardo) – This paper provides an overview of the international maritime regulations that govern the
seaworthiness of vessels.
We are seeking highly motivated volunteer researchers in all fields relevant to seasteading. If you have knowledge or experience in engineering and are looking for a topic, our past research and our now defunct five year engineering development plan (due to financial constraints we are no longer pursuing this five year plan) are good sources for inspiration. You can always email our staff at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Qualified applicants should apply with a brief proposal, along with a resume or description of any relevant background or experience. Student independent study and internship projects are encouraged and can be accommodated. See our Students page for more information.
The main research page has more information on our overarching objectives, as well as alternative project formats to research. Examples of future engineering research topics include:
- • What hull materials and methods of fabrication are best-suited for large ocean platforms?
- • What technologies (i.e., buoys equipped with sensors) can help vessels and platforms detect tail-end environmental events such as rogue waves?
- • What designs and materials are ideal for creating lightweight deckhouses and cabins aboard a seastead platform?
- • What ship/barge structures produce the most and least seasickness?
- • What are the costs of various data transmission alternatives at various distances from shore?