Seasteading Institute puts floating city technology to the test

The Seasteading Institute, the most high-profile organisation involved in the development of floating cities, has announced that it has begun testing the technology that forms the basis for its planned floating metropolis.

Designed by urban consultancy firm DeltaSync, the city is intended to be made up of modular square platforms measuring 50m x 50m each and pentagon-shaped platforms with 50m long sides.

These platforms would allow multiple configurations, and allow the city to be adjusted and changed as needs required.

The tests underway are to assess the suitability of the square platforms for the purpose, in particular to determine how well they will endure a varying marine environment.


For the tests, a scale model of the platform has been constructed measuring 1.5m long.

This will be tested in a towing tank at the University of New Orleans, School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. Such tanks are traditionally used to test ships and other offshore structures during their design, making it an ideal environment for the floating city’s development.

During its time in the tank, the structure will be subjected to waves of a variety of heights and frequencies, to test its ability to withstand different conditions.

“By employing the physical testing methods of the model basin, systematic variation in vessel properties (displacement and weight placement) and environmental conditions (wave heights, lengths, and periods) are iterated, and their effects on vessel performance (speed, stability, seakeeping) are observed,” explained Michael Capitain, an engineer at Welwynd Marine who is undertaking the study.

It is hoped that the research should help to keep development costs for the platforms – which are estimated to cost $15m each – relatively low.

“This process directs the design towards a final product of improved performance,” added Capitain.

“The cost savings and ease of property variation make the development of novel systems – such as the Seastead – more attainable, achieving an optimal platform or operational envelope in less time and for smaller budgets.”

The tests mark the start of Phase II of the institute’s project to build the world’s first floating city, a key step for the institute and its supporters.

As part of Phase I the Seasteading Institute conducted a feasibility report of a floating city, undertook successful crowdfunding to commission a city design and received detailed designs for two approaches to the floating city concept.

The organisation also selected a design to pursue further, initiated ongoing research about potential citizens of this floating city and sought a suitable location for the city.

Now Phase II has started, the organisation is set to research and assess the design further to develop more accurate financial projections, begin discussions with would-be investors, gain feedback from potential residents and firm up diplomatic relations with potential host countries.

Images courtesy of the Seasteading Institute.

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