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Brief Published: 17 Jun 2014

Future Communities: Seasteading

The Swimming City by András Gyõrfi

A US-based organisation has said it wants to help create floating communities at sea with "start-up governments" that are not afraid to try new ideas. The Seasteading Institute claims these self-sufficient communities are vital for enabling social and political experiments.

"We think we need a sort of start-up sector for the government – a sort of Silicon Valley of the sea, where 21st-century ideas for governance can be tried," said Joe Quirk, the group's communication director. "We're creating, literally, a platform for anyone to try whatever kind of nation they want."

In April, the group released a report investigating the feasibility of seasteading. It concluded that the first floating city could be ready by 2020, housing around 225 people. The report also said it is likely the Seasteading Institute would be able to reach a deal with a host nation to ensure political independence.

The community would be created using modular square or pentagon platforms costing about $15m each, based on engineering techniques used for existing floating structures.

Concerns over rising sea levels and overpopulation have led many designers and visionaries to rivers and oceans to find extra space. Architects have experimented with floating hotels and theatres, and practices such as Dutch firm Waterstudio are specialising in creating flexible, floating communities of the future. For more, see Waterway Living: A New Urban Typology.