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Lilypad floating city concept


January 26, 2011

The Lilypad floating city concept is designed to house climate change refugees

The Lilypad floating city concept is designed to house climate change refugees

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With global sea levels predicted to rise significantly over the next century due to climate change, a lot of people living in low lying areas are expected to be displaced from their homes. Architect Vincent Callebaut has come up with a possible relocation destination for these climate change refugees in the form of the “Lilypad” concept – a completely self-sufficient floating city that would accommodate up to 50,000.

With a shape inspired by the highly ribbed leaf of Victoria water lilies, the double skin of the floating “ecopolis” would be made of polyester fibers covered by a layer of titanium dioxide (TiO2), which would react with ultraviolet rays and absorb atmospheric pollution via a photocatalytic effect in the same way as the air-purifying concrete and paving stones we looked at last year.

Three marinas and three mountains would surround a centrally located artificial lagoon that is totally immersed below the water line to act as ballast for the city. The three mountains and marinas would be dedicated to work, shopping and entertainment, respectively, while suspended gardens and aquaculture farms located below the water line would be used to grow food and biomass.

The floating city would also include the full complement of renewable energy technologies, including solar, thermal, wind, tidal, and biomass to produce more energy than it consumes. The Lilypads could be located close to land or set free to follow the ocean currents wherever they may lead.

While Callebaut‘s Lilypad concept is admirable in its aim of providing a home for displaced climate change refugees, it seems that these same people would be the last ones to be able to afford a place on what would likely be an enormously expensive piece of real estate.

Callebaut’s hope that the Lilypad becomes a reality by 2100 might also make it too late to benefit those worst affected by any rise in sea levels. Still, like the Green Float and Ark Hotel concepts, it’s an eye-catching design that will hopefully get people thinking about ways to tackle the looming problem of climate change refugees.

Via freshome.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

Like the article mentions, the problem is the real estate cost. So I really suggest everyone to take look at The Venus Project http://www.thevenusproject.com/ which promotes similar technologies, but the key is to make them freely available to the whole society.


So wrong in so many ways. So unworthy of Gizmag, which used to be a science and technology blog, not Mother Jones.

The mere mention of \'Ocean Levels rising\' is not only circa-2006 nonsense, but is scientifically ignorant of the fact that continent-covering ocean level rise of this level has never occurred on the planet, and was never predicted even by the most partisan climate alarmists. It\'s fun to manufacture a crisis like this to look cool to chicks. But sadly, polar ice levels, and ocean levels are the same today as they were 20 years ago. Check the NOAA raw observations instead of \'computer models\'.

The other liberal dream - Social Engineering in the form of cramming us all into somebody\'s beautifully-designed sardine can - looks cool, but humans don\'t work this way. We have our own individual needs and expressions, and won\'t conform to an Eco-Loon\'s idea of a politically correct \'habitat\' - sorry, prison.

Instead, try creating tools that help us individually attain our own goals and accomplishments, including living spaces we can build to our own taste. That may be a little too free-market for eco-lefties to handle, but nature does prevail eventually.

Todd Dunning

Why not just build them on the land, on stilts, and then wait for the sea level to rise, or not. Come to think of it, just build all new buildings on stilts. You could use the space at ground level for car parking. Too easy?



This idea that individuals should be able to use up earth\'s resources without giving any thought as to the impact this could have on everyone else who lives here will eventually destroy ALL people on this planet. You projected all sorts of nonsense fear mongering into your post and it\'s all bunk. If we continue the way we are with this planet of \"individual\" consumers who all set about destroying the planet that everyone lives on, none of us whether it be individual or collective will survive. The idea that we could continue this endless over-production on a finite planet is itself \"utopian\".

Facebook User


Must be a slow day for science/tech, this Lilypad floating city concept has been \'floating\' around since at least 2007. Same renderings from then too.


Looks great, but what if someone pulls the plug on the bottom and it starts to sink.....what happens teh????? Maybe we can make these at a rent contolled levels so social security, social services ad welfare can pay for them...

Richie Suraci

Facebook User... sorry, it\'s not 1972 any longer.

The world is in great shape and will survive for another 4 billion years. Your Hemp messenger bag won\'t really matter to anyone but your own sense of sanctimony.

Todd Dunning


Wow man, must be nice for you to be omniscient. So easy to see everything when you\'re so high up the food chain.

Go ahead. Make a snide comment. You\'re very good at those. I even checked my spelling so you can focus.

Daniel Vulikh

Looks like an updated but less practical version of Sea City, introduced some 40 years ago.



Daniel it takes a vastly higher level of omniscience to predict that suddenly, after billions of years, the last tiny 200 years of industrialization will force the oceans to rise to the level you would get moving earth\'s orbit a few percent closer to the sun.

Never mind that there is not even enough land- and glacier-based ice to make but a few inches\' difference even if you melted all of it. And the ocean ice...well...floats already. By the way, that means that even if it melted, the ocean levels would stay the same.

There are real scientific problems that need solving, and we don\'t have to make up new ones.

Todd Dunning

Total nonsense. Total bore, but ok pictures, I guess.

We can\'t maintain our own cities or keep them safe and they\'re on land: How are you going to keep that going when individuals are tearing it down and it keeps sinking and everyone keeps drowning?

Fred Meyers

Yeah yeah yeah - more pie in the sky \"popular mechanics\" bullshit.

Mr Stiffy

Good Concept.


Here is an Energy Island concept developed by Dominic Michaelis:


Anumakonda Jagadeesh

Ha!!! I never thought I\'d see bickering in Gizmag\'s comments! Well, may I pour petrol on the fire? When I was in school (1970s) they were talking about another calamity. According to the science of the day the data was conclusive, we were heading for another Ice Age. Today the equally \'conclusive\' data says the opposite.


Todd, you\'re missing my point. Global warming, rising sea levels, even ice ages - I can take it or leave it. It doesn\'t take much brains, though, to spot overpopulation, overexploitation of limited resources, species extinction and social/economical inequity (not necessarily in that order). You know things that wars are made off. Anything that aims at helping with those is good in my opinion. Even if it\'s kinda naive. We don\'t know what will be possible.

Attacking someone else\'s opinions here of all places is not cool.

Daniel Vulikh

It\'s interesting that the one world-wide disaster God promised would never happen again is the one some people fear. While the great flood of Noah\'s time did cover the whole earth, He promised He would never do it again, and gave us a rainbow to remind us.

By the way, why are those so adamantly convinced of a possible \'Waterworld\' future frequently deny that it\'s happened before?

Just doesn\'t make sense.

Facebook User

Todd I\'ve finally worked out what you are doing - yes, I know, more caffeine right?

It really is a cunning plan to make the denialist arguments so ridiculous (\"continent covering\" lol) that your \'support\' lends credence to the opposite POV - especially where you make a statement and then suggest a way to show it is gibberish like checking with NOAA (lmao)


I don\'t care what anyone says about \'low hanging fruit\' - if it floats your boat I say go for it!

Hmmm, can I have a go?

Neil, you are so right every single scientist was telling us to expect an ice age 40 years ago - check this out, it proves it!!


Ok, not up to your standard Todd, but I\'ll work on it!

Speaking of working, your claim that the \"MSM\" has given up on climate change is probably your best yet;

It just makes people want to read the NYT all over again, right?


Don\'t worry, your secret is safe with me ... I mean \'us\' ... oh ... sorry again!!


Hmmmm, climate change? Wait a minute, should they mistook continental drift a part of climate-change dynamics? Well, that\'s a notch higher to common misconception and/or elitists\' propaganda. Hmmm, come on! Let\'s buy their agenda for a price of a lofty floating-city lot. How come uptown not good enough...? Let me wonder of this modern babel of stupidity they call prime lots of twenty-first\'s century...in peace.

Julius Siador

I\'m a bit confused as to the level of argument about continents being covered in water. No scientist in their right minds even considers that possibility. The ocean rise by 2100 that the article talks about is the very SMALL amount expected by then; the point is that with so many (especially the very impoverished) living so close to sea level, tens of millions could be very easily displaced.

Jason Harder

I must say it\'s hilarious reading all the comments on an idea thats nothing more than a futurist concept! The designer doesn\'t even think it\'ll be built in his lifetime let alone is anyone petitioning their governments to start building them in preparation for doomsday!

I do also laugh at someone who thinks we as humans in our relatively short period of time on earth especially the even shorter time as industrialized can\'t have had an effect on the Global climate. I\'d loved to know if that person has ever travelled out of their state (yes I\'m assuming they are American) The worlds population has increased dramatically over the last 200 years and is increasing exponentially into the future. I\'d imagine this is why people are conceptualizing ideas such as the one above.

Doesn\'t mean it\'ll ever be built... just food for thought!

Daniel Spinks
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