Sunday, July 12, 2009

Two if by Land, None if by Sea

Just last month, a strange site appeared in Portland, docked at Waterfront Park. The area, chain-linked off from anyone getting too close, gave a vision of a spectacle equal parts Rose Festival Fleet Week and kitschy episode of the The Love Boat, spawned from gigantism of the engineering prowess and the ego that could only yield something as warped in size and concept as 'The World'.

:: Portland, Meet the World - image via Google Images

This thought stuck in my head - why? While life at sea on the move, from port to port, may at least give one a feeling that there is a different destination looming, adventure around the corner, or least a feeling that if you're on a boat, your life can't be standing still - life on the static 'floating island' must come from those willing to stay put. This is the concept of 'Seasteading' is just that - homesteading on the sea. This is not a houseboat... think more like an oil derrick with buildings on top.

:: Club Stead - image via Wikipedia (copyright TSI, used by CCR)

The main group behind this concept is The Seasteading Institute - and the winners of the "...first Seasteading Architectural Design Contest ...invited participants to design the floating city of their dreams. " ...were recently unveiled, via a post on Bustler. I filed this under Veg.itecture due to the inclusion of images of rooftop greenery - but thought better even though I guess if the entire 'field' on which the design is placed is a giant (patent pending?) floating platform, then it's all on structure. Here's some of the notable entries - but read more at Bustler.

The Swimming City by András Gyõrfi won top prize - and really seemed ok, but not necessarily conjuring up visions of innovative sea life - more like a new urbanist development in a bustling suburb of florida. Even the greenery seems pastoral - like someone's front yard.

:: images via Bustler
On the flip side, there were definitely those with the aquatic theme in full speed, sporting fins and other such ichthymorphic features that I thought would dominate the competition, such as the Winner of the Prize for Aesthetic Design: SESU Seastead by Marko Järvela

:: image via Bustler

A lot just look like some new modern buildings (albeit sometimes with an icing of the Veg.itectural) photoshopped onto a square surrounded by water. The water in this could be the surrounding street in the urban block - as removed from an seasteading context as these are.

:: images via Bustler

These could literally be floating anywhere - so not necessarily contextual. Then again, if you place something out in the sea, what is the context? The most contextual I think really captured 'oil derrick'... motif was Resort by László Szabó...

:: images via Bustler

Also, the most innovative idea I thought may go to: the Cultural center, Designer: Mark McQuilten, Robert Davidov and Ben Attrill... featuring a floating scene of contextual destruction with a 'Planet of the Apes' apocalyptic scene moored next to the current Statue of Liberty. Sort of a post-global warming Ellis-island welcome to the new world.

:: images via Bustler
A goodly portion of these are just plain awful - but enough interest to think: 1) of the technical problem solving to make these ideas work on a floating, seaworthly platform, 2) do these operated similar to small island nations with 95-100% imports of practically everything, aside from fish?, and 3) what would motivate someone to live on one of these - aside from the random assorted Bond villian? So curious.


  1. There is this art project going on in NYC called waterpod:

    SO this interest abounds among the creative class. But what is driving people to the sea? Is it the idea that the coast will be flooded, may as well step out to sea? Seems resource intensive as well, and the constant salt will get to people and plants more than they may might imagine. And then of course, storms.

    But I am sure all these things have been considered. Maybe its an exercise in living off planet, the sea as close as possible to the idea.

  2. you might be interested in Stiltsville, which sits in the middle of Biscayne Bay.

  3. Like I commented on Inhabitat, I think the concepts thus far, especially this one ( ) are ridiculous exercises of whimsy. Only a few of the ideas deserve any consideration as possible means of addressing environmental problems, e.g., ( )

  4. These all look like SecondLife to me...

  5. The bad news is apparently The World is sold out.


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