The Creativity Exchange ran a post this week about The Freedom Ship – a floating city complete with airport, university, office space, and residences priced from $180,000 to $44 million. The Freedom Ship is supposed to circumnavigate the globe every 12 months, which seems a little challenging — those Atlantic and Pacific storms might be tough to endure.
However, the idea of a stationary floating urban space is intriguing.
Many prosperous world port cities face obstacles to economic and demographic growth from geographic constraint. Being able to add space off shore could prove valuable. Here are some ideas for floating urban spaces:
1. A regular suburb. You would reach it by boat or air, with frequent regular shuttles connecting it to the main city. The space could contain a park, playground, restaurants, a grocery store, and other amenities that would make it as workable as any bedroom community suburb. The advantage of living here would be great views, fresh air, and perhaps a short commute to work downtown. This wouldn’t need to be as big as the floating freedom city, so could fit offshore in many coastal metropolis.
2. A floating business park, or single occupancy company campus. Companies like Google, Microsoft, Cisco, Electronic Arts are well known for their university-like campuses containing hundreds of thousands or even millions of square feet of office and amenity space. As they expand, it becomes harder to find contiguous space. Moreover, to attract and retain talented people, many of these types of companies face the issue that their employees want to live downtown or in a cool dense, urban area rather than an outlying suburb (ie San Francisco not Mountain View, Vancouver not Burnaby or Surrey). Perhaps a solution is a floating company campus near to downtown with regular shuttles from major transit hubs and/or urban population centers. A floating campus could offer great views, lots of natural light and air, and that special funky edge that might appeal to many workers.
3. A floating “lifestyle centre” - A high end shopping mall and casual entertainment space such as cafes, restaurants, etc. along with a limited number of residential units. Served regularly by small ferries, the merchants would also offer free shipping to a pick up point at a parkade back at the mainland. So you could shop, then have your parcels sent ashore while you enjoyed a light lunch.
4. A floating university campus. The new trend is for universities to integrate themselves more into the downtown and broader urban scene. But, downtowns and urban areas are often by definition full, leaving limited space to add classrooms. Here’s a solution.
I haven’t looked at costs or feasability. This is pie in the sky, but intriguing none the less.
Any other ideas?