Further evidence of China's seemingly insatiable appetite for unconventional edifices comes with newly unveiled proposals for the development of a "floating city", complete with underwater chambers and a self-contained ecosystem, off the country's coast.
Its genesis stems from a successful partnership between Chinese engineering company CCCC and London-based architects AT Design Office. The groups collaborated on the development of Port City, a 230-hectare reclaimed island off the coast of Colombo in Sri Lanka, and now see the construction of floating, mobile landmasses as their next objective. CCCC has already developed "floating bridges" which it claims can be suspended in water without support, and this nascent technology will provide the foundation for its floating city.
The four-square-mile urban centre will provide housing to residents of China's overcrowded cities, but it is to serve primarily as a high-end tourist attraction.
Tony Fan, design director of AT Design Office explains: "Chinese tourism investors want to create attractions that have never been seen before, and at the moment going under [and on] the sea is very attractive to the market. People in Britain might want to go to the beach to see the sun, there people want to go under the water. The demand looks very real; there's a need and a dream there and they want to do it."
Under current plans, the floating city will include plenty to keep future visitors entertained. Vast recreation zones will feature multiple restaurants, bars, museums, galleries and a theme park, and areas both on and below the water's surface will host stadium-style concerts. Various hotels will stand underwater, with incoming visitors being able to dock at the city's cruise terminal and yacht marina before being transferred to their final destination by submarine.
Original plans suggested that the city could be sited by Macau, already an exceptionally popular destination with Chinese tourists, but with the floating city expected to be entirely self-sufficient it won't be necessary to locate it by a larger urban centre. Satellite farms will provide food; hydropower generators will provide energy; and rainwater from roofs and facades will be channelled into a freshwater lake.
Detractors have queried whether such an ambitious project will ever come to pass, but the floating city's backers are adamant that its construction is only a matter of time. Developers point to the floating houses already in existence in Holland as a humble precursor of what's to come, and the threat of rising sea levels is providing further impetus for the development of floating habitats. More significantly, perhaps, is the fact that CCCC's parent company is China Transport, one of the largest investors in China. The company's financial might is significant and with its support it's expected that construction of the floating city will start within 10 to 20 years.
The Telegraph, London