The shining city … on the sea?

Posted by: ST on July 4, 2008 at 11:05 am

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the “lilypad cities”:

Lilypad cities
Photo courtesy: Solent News and Photos

What the heck are they? Read on:

At first glance, they look like a couple of giant inflatable garden chairs that have washed out to sea.

But they are, apparently, the ultimate solution to rapidly rising sea levels.

This computer-generated image shows two floating cities, each with enough room for 50,000 inhabitants.

Based on the design of a lilypad, they could be used as a permanent refuge for those whose homes have been covered in water. Major cities including London, New York and Tokyo are seen as being at huge risk from oceans which could rise by as much as 3ft by the end of this century.

This solution, by the award-winning Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut, is designed to be a new place to live for those whose homelands have been wiped out.

The ‘Lilypad City’ would float around the world as an independent and fully self-sustainable home. With a lake at its centre to collect and purify rainwater, it would be accessed by three separate marinas and feature artificial mountains to offer the inhabitants a change of scenery from the seascape.

Power for the central accommodation hub is provided through a series of renewable energy sources including solar panels on the mountain sides, wind turbines and a power station to harness the energy of the waves.

Mr Callebaut said: ‘The design of the city is inspired by the shape of the great Amazonia Victoria Regia lilypad. Some countries spend billions of pounds working on making their beaches and dams bigger and stronger.

‘But the lilypad project is actually a long-term solution to the problem of the water rising.’

The architect, who has yet to estimate a cost for his design, added: ‘It’s an amphibious city without any roads or any cars. The whole city is covered by plants housed in suspended gardens.

‘The goal is to create a harmonious coexistence of humans and nature.’

Really? I have a better idea: Why not just go ahead and create these now so we can ship off all the global warming alarmists in the world who don’t practice what they preach about conservation, like The Goracle and John Edwards (for starters)? That would have the effect of creating a more “harmonious coexistence of humans and nature” stateside as well :D Why, these things could become so self-sustaining that they could turn from floating cities into – gasp – countries of their own! And then maybe, just maybe The Goracle could find a place where he could finally be elected president.

Here’s another photo of a “lilypad city”:

Lilypad city

Is it just me, or do the windmills in the image all kinda sorta look like peace signs? :-?

More from the article:

Centred around a lake which collects and then purifies rain water, the Lilypad will drift around the world following the ocean currents and streams.

It will “drift around the world”? Even better! My only question is: will it be stable and sturdy enough to handle not just the global warming alarmists themselves, but their massive egos, too? It sounds like the architect has thought of everything, so I’ll just have to assume he factored that into the equation as well.

I see no reason to delay construction of lilypad cities any longer. Let’s get started!

Cross-posted to Right Wing News, where I am helping guestblog for John Hawkins today.

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13 Responses to “The shining city … on the sea?”


  1. Lorica says:

    I like the second picture. It gives the impression that even the sea life would be happy if we lived in these cities. /Sings….”If we could walk with the animals, talk with the animals.” =)) – Lorica

  2. NC Cop says:

    Unfortunately, there will be no flat screen TV’s on this eco-friendly paradise, so count me out!!

    Flat-Screen TV Gas ‘a Climate Time Bomb’

  3. Hey, just as a fan of science-fiction, I love this idea. To heck with the global-warming nuts, I want them built just because they’re cool-looking! :d

    One small problem, though: if these are to drift on the world’s currents, what happens when they collide? Will there be war between two floating eco-paradises? Conflict among the cabanas? @-)

    I can see the UN peacekeepers’ next assignment already. ;)

  4. Frank Veracity says:

    I think the “Law of Unintended Consequences” is going to have a field day if these ever get built.

    What happens when they run aground?
    What happens when they are just drifting along and wind up in a hurricane or cyclone?
    What happens when they enter the territorial waters of a nasty, mean, unfriendly nation?
    Wbat happens when they hit an iceberg?
    What happens when nature takes its course and the population grows?
    The list goes on and on.

  5. david foster says:

    No collisions, Anthony. Each lilypad will have a large group of galley slaves public service volunteers equipped with long oars to row the thing out of the way of other lilypads and various marine obstacles. These galley slaves volunteers will be taken from among the population which refuses to accept orders scientifc truth from their natural superiors experts

  6. Leslie says:

    Very clever, and very beautiful. As sci-fi pioneer Hugo Gernsback said about 85 years ago, “science fiction today, cold fact tomorrow.”

    This is not a project that ought to be mocked.

  7. C’mon, Leslie. A self-sustaining city that floats around the world is about as realistic as Barack Obama taking a consistent position on just about any issue. It being a clever and beautiful doesn’t change that.

  8. Chuck says:

    Probably not gonna happen, but it looks cool. I’d like to have my own private one to hangout on, but the Goracle will probably beat me to it.

  9. sanity says:

    Like any great Lilypad, all it needs are the frogs.

  10. Leslie says:


    How do you know this is unrealistic? A century ago, TV was unrealistic.

    Nobody wanted to fund Babbage’s “difference engine,” and it wasn’t until 130 years too late that one was finally built. And it worked.

    Had it been built in the 1840s, it would have been the first real computer and the entire course of history would have been changed.

  11. Leslie, I don’t “know” for sure that it’s unrealistic – it’s just my opinion. A city that floats around the world is a disaster waiting to happen, IMO. Other commenters have asked relevant questions about the potential hazards of having a floating city, and I don’t have much confidence that the designer of the city took most – if any – of those types of questions into account with his creation.

  12. Leslie says:


    What you say is true. Obviously, before they’re built (if ever they are) these are the sorts of things that will have to be discussed.

    We’re at the dream stage here, not the engineering stage.