Maldives is accelerating floating cities’ development
20 JULY 2022 – The nation of Maldives, comprising a chain-like archipelago of 26 low-lying coral islets in the Indian Ocean, is facing existential threat due to sea level rise. More than 80 per cent of the land is less than one metre above sea level, and the islands are vulnerable to problems such as saltwater intrusion towards the fresh water supply, pollution and beach erosion.1
“In the Maldives we cannot stop the waves, but we can rise with them,” stated Mohamed Nasheed, President of the Maldives from 2008-2012 and Speaker of Parliament. Over the last decade, a sustainable and liveable system called Maldives Floating City has been developed by technical experts in collaboration with the government and authorities.
“This Maldives Floating City does not require any land reclamation, therefore has a minimal impact on the coral reefs … What’s more, giant, new reefs will be grown to act as water breakers. Our adaption to climate change mustn’t destroy nature but work with it,” said Nasheed.
Plan and design
The floating city is devised by Dutch Docklands, a developer specialising in water projects, in collaboration with Waterstudio, an urban planning and architecture firm.
Across a 200-hectare lagoon, thousands of residences and commercial spaces will be available to purchase for foreigners and local families alike, backed by government-issued titles and deeds. Once fully realised, a hospital, school and government building will complement the structures.
Illustration of Maldives Floating City within the chain of coral islets. Image by Waterstudio/Dutch Docklands Maldives The floating spaces are aimed to be more resilient against changes in sea level. Image by Waterstudio/Dutch Docklands Maldives
The design is inspired by traditional Maldivian sea-faring culture and natural elements. For instance, coral plays a crucial role in the master plan. The scalable ‘city’ is composed of hexagon-shaped segments that were modelled, in part, on the distinctive geometry of local coral. It will also be connected to a ring of the barrier islands.
As the structures float, island barriers around the lagoon will serve as wave breakers underwater. This helps to lessen the impact of lagoon waves while stabilising the structures on the surface. The marine engineering, technical details and specifications for this development has been completed, with construction scheduled to begin in January 2023 and expected completion within five years.
The first block of model floating homes is currently under construction, due to be transported to the lagoon and opened for public visits come August 2022.