You don’t have to be a frog in order to dream of sitting on a lilypad — although being green would help . Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut (who has already won an impressive array of awards given that he is only 30 years old) designed LILYPAD, A FLOATING ECOPOLIS FOR CLIMATE REFUGEES — each one planned to house about 50,000 people who have been displaced by rising water levels. Inspired by the large leaves of the water lily Victoria amazonica (also known as Victoria regia), Lilypad plans to run entirely on renewable energy sources, have zero carbon emissions, be self-sufficient concerning water, food, and other resources, and be in every way fully self-sustainable.
Sounds great — living on an island that floats. There are other people, but at least there are no cars (bicycles, maybe?). A few questions come to mind, though. If indeed many millions of people will be displaced by the changing climate, as Callebaut’s website claims, there’d have to be at least a hundred, or even hundreds, of Lilypads. I guess the technology that prevents them from bumping into each other would be included, but we could have pretty crowded oceans… And who could afford to buy a place on such a happy float? Although a price tag has yet to be calculated, it’s quite unlikely that the villagers of some tiny South Sea island which is gradually disappearing below rising waters could come up with the necessary cash.
While I was doing a bit of research about the Lilypads, I came across some other innovative ideas for a floating lifestyle — presented at Inhabitat.com, an interesting weblog with the latest news about alternative energies, sustainability, innovative technologies, etc. While Callebaut’s website laments that the Dutch “…« fatten » their beach with billion [sic] of euros to build their short-living polders and their protective dams for a decade”, they’re actually building Amphibious Houses that rise when the water level does. It’s called “flood-resistant architecture”, and unlike the stunning designs by the award-winning Belgian architect which so far seem to exist only in the virtual world of computer models, these Dutch ideas have become real spaces for people to live in.
After all, the Dutch have a long history of building creatively with and around water.