Submitted by William Poulin (Walt Disney Imagineering) as an independent study
Place Making: At the core of the Seasteading Project all aspects of design should pay respect to the ocean as a fundamental element of all life and the planet. The design should seek to embody and celebrate the pioneering spirit of exploration. It must be equally unique in its approach to both development program and physical environment as each must be flexible with the ability to adapt as site, cultural and economic conditions change. A modular approach will allow the project to expand, contract and morph in response as necessary. As a self‐contained environment the floating city must provide it inhabitants a variety of opportunities to live, work and play to support their quality of life. The overall place making goal must be to create an environment that appeals to those with the adventurous spirit willing to engage in this frontier experiment.
Social Dynamic: While the design of the Floating City cannot and should not try to dictate a specific social pattern the urban planning concept must consider the uniqueness of the endeavor. The planning principles may aspire to emulate the basic tenets of the Burning Man philosophy as they relate to organic community building through the promotion of radical inclusion, self‐reliance, self‐expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, participation and environmental conscience. The governing principles will also likely share commonalities with Arcosanti, the integrated self‐sustaining urban laboratory in the desert developed by Paolo Soleri with its focus on innovative approaches to design, construction and community building. Both of these philosophies can be conducive to creating a dynamic that engages the mind, body and soul and may be appealing to the artisan community.
Design Inspiration: In diagrammatically exploring the patterns to be extracted from the standardized platform shapes established by the Seasteading Institute a simple pattern emerged. The interlocking of adjacent hexagons forms a pattern reminiscent of a sea turtle shell. Applying this to the organizational layout of the city core this pure geometry provides an inherent structural integrity that is modular while creating an interesting edge that allows for expansion. Continuing to evolve that basic layout of site creation, referencing the efficiency of the form of a common hardware nut show the contrast and interest of a circular form set atop a hexagon to create a continuous perimeter space that takes on a fluid form in lieu of a parallel offset. Given that the floating city will be constructed of man‐made shapes with relatively open views in all directions to the horizon it is important to apply some contrast in the geometry and layout that diffuse long uninterrupted views and lead the eye away from such rigid sightlines. In addition to the aesthetic benefits of this combination the surfaces also provide functional thermal and wind load benefits. This base level departure from the standard land based vehicular dictated orthogonal grid will set the tone for the finish spaces that follow. Lastly in seeking the most efficient modular geometry within the circular structure a radial overlay of a Trivial Pursuit game piece shows the manner in which interchangeable shapes can fit into the same superstructure. In defining the construction methodologies and economic feasibilities these wedge shapes could be viewed as opportunities for pre‐fabrication or internal spatial build out without impacting the primary structure.
Architectural Character: The intent of the architectural design is to convey an iconic style using clean, simple forms with sleek technical finishes that are modern bordering on futuristic. The goal would be to evoke the attitude of the space race of the 60’s combined with the ocean exploration and educational work of Jacques Cousteau. Applying those somewhat nostalgic ideals of perceived future to the massing and execution of the architecture influences can be drawn from the industrial fusion work of Eero Saarinen and his use of sweeping, arching structural elements into a neo‐futuristic style. The resulting forms and space can create a dynamic energy and the feel that the development is grounded in a higher purpose of exploration and experiment. To reinforce the connection to the sea there should be no interior bays so all habitable spaces have direct views to the open water. Glazing should be used extensively on facades throughout and the roofs of the central atriums and gallerias to promote the views to the water, sky and natural light. The roof surfaces of the primary structures should utilize green roofs as much as possible to maximize the amount of public open space. These green areas may be used for a recreation and/or small scale food production while providing a thermal insulation benefit.
Site Master Plan: The master plan is based on a creating the central core necessary to achieve an initial critical mass. This City Center would have a central hexagonal form that serves as a hub to link in the abutting six hexagons on each perimeter facet. The hub is intended to be the main public open space that has its purpose symbolically linked to its physical placement at the origin of the geometry.
As the initial development the structures in this mass will be mixed‐use both vertically and horizontally. There will be two non‐standard configuration pods to accommodate the specific municipal needs, one will contain the welcome center, educational center, security, emergency services and administrative offices and the other would contain the required back of house services that will include sanitary collection, trash collection, chilled water, potable water, power, communications, fuel storage and maintenance.
The standard hexagon development pods will comprise the majority of the development. These pods will be linked periodically with square shaped connector pods that allow for elongation of the structure and inclusion of open water into the clusters. All adjoining pods have connecting portals that would allow people to move throughout the entire complex without ever being exposed to inclement weather.
The site plan should incorporate the use of wind turbines and photo voltaic cells as often as possible to assist in supplying the Floating City power needs.
All design contest images on this page are under the Creative Commons Attribution License. It means that you are allowed to redistribute and modify images but that you must attribute the original designer when doing so.
The technology to foster the fluid mechanics of voluntary societies is at hand.
The Seasteading Institute is a nonprofit think-tank working to provide a machinery of freedom to choose new societies on the blue frontier.
The most successful floating cities can then inspire change around the world.