I have always been a fan of looking towards the future, and I especially love looking at the future, or potential future of Cities, enter the Lilypad, brainchild of Vincent Callebaut Architectures, the Lilypad is a design for an auto-sufficient amphibious city. The designer takes the view that we humans are not going to be able to get our act together fast enough to stop the impending Climate Crisis. According to more conservative forecasts of the GIEC (Intergovernmental group on the evolution of the climate) the ocean is likely to rise by about a meter in the 21st century, leaving approximately 50 million people to be evacuated from the low lying areas that will be affected.
Lilypad, a prototype of auto-sufficient amphibious city
Whereas the Netherlands and the United Arabic Emirates « fatten » their beach with billion of euros to build their short-living polders and their protective dams for a decade, the project «Lilypad» deals with a tenable solution to the water rising! Actually, facing the worldwide ecological crisis, this floating Ecopolis has the double objective not only to widen sustainabely in offshore the territories of the most developed countries such as the Monaco principality but above all to grant the housing of future climatic refugees of he next submerged ultra-marine territories such as the Polynesian atolls. New biotechnological prototype of ecologic resilience dedicated to the nomadism and the urban ecology in the sea, Lilypad travels on the water line of the oceans, from the equator to the poles following the marine streams warm ascending of the Gulf Stream or cold descending of the Labrador.
It is a true amphibian half aquatic and half terrestrial city, able to accommodate 50,000 inhabitants and inviting the biodiversity to develop its fauna and flora around a central lagoon of soft water collecting and purifying the rain waters. This artificial lagoon is entirely immersed ballasting thus the city. It enables to live in the heart of the subaquatic depths. The multifunctional programming is based on three marinas and three mountains dedicated respectively to the work, the shops and the entertainments. The whole set is covered by a stratum of planted housing in suspended gardens and crossed by a network of streets and alleyways with organic outline. The goal is to create a harmonious coexistence of the couple Human / Nature and to explore new modes of living the sea by building with fluidity collective spaces in proximity, overwhelming spaces of social inclusion suitable to the meeting of all the inhabitants – denizen or foreign-born, recent or old, young or aged people.
The floating structure in « branches » of the Ecopolis is directly inspired of the highly ribbed leave of the great lilypad of Amazonia Victoria Regia increased 250 times. Coming from the family of Nympheas, this aquatic plant with exceptional plasticity was discovered by the German botanist Thaddeaus Haenke and dedicated to the Queen Victoria of England in the 19th Century. The double skin is made of polyester fibres covered by a layer of titanium dioxide (TiO2) like an anatase which by reacting to the ultraviolet rays enable to absorb the atmospheric pollution by photocatalytic effect. Entirely autosufficient, Lilypad takes up the four main challenges launched by the OECD in March 2008: climate, biodiversity, water and health. It reached a positive energetic balance with zero carbone emission by the integration of all the renewable energies (solar, thermal and photovoltaic energies, wind energy, hydraulic, tidal power station, osmotic energies, phytopurification, biomass) producing thus durably more energy that it consumes! True biotope entirely recyclable, this floating Ecopolis tends thus towards the positive eco-accountancy of the building in the oceanic ecosystems by producing and softening itself the oxygen and the electricity, by recycling the CO2 and the waste, by purifying and softening biologically the used waters and by integrating ecological niches, aquaculture fields and biotic corridors on and under its body to meet its own food needs.
To reply to the mutation of the migratory flows coming from the hydroclimatic factors, Lilypad join thus on the mode of anticipation particular to the Jules Verne’s literature, the alternative possibility of a multicultural floating Ecopolis whose metabolism would be in perfect symbiosis with the cycles of the nature. It will be one of the major challenges of the 21st Century to create an international convention inventing new special means to accommodate the environmental migrants by recognizing their rights and obligations. Political and social challenge, the urban sustainable development must more than ever enter in resonance worldly with the human sustainable development!