Following the forecasts of GIEC (Intergovernmental group on the evolution of the climate), the ocean level should rise from 20 to 90 centimeters during the 21st Century. This would lead to significant ground losses for a number of countries, with a lot of people that are expected to be displaced from their homes.
Paris-based architectural practice Vincent Callebaut Architectures proposed a concept of a self-sufficient amphibious city for the year 2100 that will provide shelter for the future climate change refugees. Titled Lilypad, the city will travel across oceans, from the equator to the poles, following the sea streams.
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 is directly inspired of the highly ribbed leave of the great lilypad of Victoria amazonica increased 250 times. 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 the photocatalytic effect.
Entirely all-sufficient, 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 carbon emission by the integration of all the renewable energies (solar, thermal and photovoltaic energies, wind energy, hydraulic, tidal power station, osmotic energies, phyto purification, 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.