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About this book

This book presents a collection of proposed offshore and nearshore settlements in response to the emerging consequences of climate change. These settlements are counterpoints to megacities with unsustainable ecological footprints. The continuing depletion of natural resources has resulted in displaced communities, prompting the following research questions:

What if we floated on sea instead of inefficiently consuming land?

Could we use wave energy instead of nuclear energy?

How can we replenish food supply and regenerate marine eco-diversity?

How would our lives be shaped by new offshore settlements?

What would we use as structures for shelter, farming, scaffolding and recreation?

Floating cities emerged in the 1960s with Buckminster Fuller’s Triton City and Kenzo Tange’s Tokyo Bay Plan, and current manifestations include Vincent Callebaut’s Lilypad, the Seasteading Institute and the mile-long Freedom Ship housing 50,000 people. As an alternative to these examples, the book proposes the repurposing of three types of marine vessel: jack-up platforms, semi-submersibles and superbarges as sustainable, habitable structures to accommodate 20% of the projected 8.1 billion global population in 2025. The spatially conceived floating settlements include food and energy supplies for housing, recreation, education at sea, post-disaster health care and resettlement for nearshore deployment.

Table of Contents


Industry Challenges as Basis for Repurposing Oil Rigs and Barges

This chapter discusses the environmental threat of the oil and gas industry at all stages of exploration, operation and decommissioning, to marine ecosystems. The scale of the technical complexities and financial implications are challenges to both environmentalists and industry seeking to protect the environment. The reuse of the abandoned structures to minimize disruption to marine ecologies is one alternative. However the periodic occurrence of unused good condition rigs due to oil price fluctuations and time lags in construction is costly to owners. Thus they may explore viable solutions through repurposing. This study focuses on the repurposing of jack-ups and semi-submersibles as they have tall structures and/or a wide range of deck areas to explore additional built-up areas. The implications of adding more useable floor area and increasing structural load pose challenges to capsizing. Design strategies depending on the type of rig are discussed to overcome instability and to give an idea on cost implications.
Joseph Lim

Intensifying Food and Housing at Sea

This chapter portrays emergent need in the context of climate change and rising global population, and proposes as counterpoints to megacities, resilient offshore and nearshore solutions to food production and supply, energy and wastewater management. Jack-ups, semi-submersibles and barges are repurposed into specialized vessels. Of key interest is a typology of a high-density housing on jack-up or semi-submersible to meet the rising population in capacities that surpass cities on modular floating rafts. The spatial quality of the architectural conversions capitalized on the use of derrick and deck structure, moonpool and pontoons to create spaces for communal gathering and for recreation. Infrastructure became architecture. The density and living quality of these propositions is explored through their range of communal recreation spaces. Theses are benchmarked with those of landed housing blocks in Singapore and landmark international examples.
Joseph Lim

Optimal Settlement Size and Masterplan Strategies

This chapter studies the optimal sizes of flotillas, which attempt a circular economy involving aquaponics production and fish farming to support population sizes adequately sustained by renewable sources of technology. Estimates of capacity are made from specialized vessels designed for accommodation, food production, waste management and medical care. These are then grouped into flotillas for 40,000 persons to be agglomerated into entire settlements. The vessels will each form elements of water-townscapes where city square is interpreted as a water court between vessels docked in specific configurations; water foyers beneath semi-submersible decks used as outdoor living spaces; and wharfs for recreation and commerce. Combinations of flotilla forms generate variants of entire settlements using jack-ups for up to 40 m depth of water and semi-submersibles for deepwater locations. The population densities of these settlements are compared with those of current floating cities, township densities in Singapore and other high-density cities. Using UNESCO guidelines for offshore settlements to estimate the spacing between settlements, these autonomous settlement fleets conceived as sea-cities, occupy 38 km2 of sea space and are an alternative to land-based mega cities accommodating 100,000 persons per km2. 20% of the projected population in the year 2025 can be accommodated on 6,510 oil rig settlements spaced 240 km2 apart over 54.25 M km2 of sea. Related to high-density settlements is the concern with environmental quality through the provision of public space. One indicator is the rate of recreational area per person. The space standards of each marine inhabitant—at 50 m2 recreational area per person—exceeds 27 m2 in London, is equivalent to Amsterdam, with one settlement type reaching 115 m per person equivalent to Vienna. Singapore by comparison, has 65 m2 of recreational area per person.
Joseph Lim

Post-disaster Applications for Displaced Populations

This chapter generates a separate fleet of floating settlements for post-disaster relief operations. Given an increase in the frequency of natural disasters caused by climate change, there is a corresponding increase with the number of displaced populations. For both climate and political refugees, the timeliness of aid for survival is not the only issue. Beyond the immediate need of restoring damaged infrastructure and providing medical aid; for survivors, is their long-term rehabilitation and recovery. The United Nations (UN) guidelines for post-disaster and humanitarian aid are adopted for response times in providing aid with a flotilla comprising semi-submersibles converted into a 1,500-bed hospital. UN space standards for post-disaster housing are fitted in superbarge accommodation units with additional units for cremation, parks and farm plots to enable survivors to start up activities for self-subsistence. The idea is to create a fully deployable fleet for immediate disaster relief, but also to provide housing, production and communal facilities for establishing and maintaining a settlement in the long term.
Joseph Lim

Other Forms of Repurposing

This chapter explores six specific applications when repurposing oil rigs into specialized vessels. The proposals are premised on nearshore/offshore prototypes which improved by design, the challenging issues of inefficient land plot requirements (e.g. prisons, funeral facilities, resorts) or unsustainable business models (Olympic stadia) or which improved industrial workflow (LNG bunkering). This leads to a streamlining of processes saving time and land resources. A jack-up funeral complex integrates wake halls, chapels, funeral parlors and crematorium in a single nearshore facility. A prison on a semi-submersible can be a solution to unsanitary conditions of many prisons worldwide that are operating in severe overcapacity. A fleet of semi-submersibles are converted into floating stadia capable of staging international sporting competitions involving games, courts and fields and which can be mobilized and reused at sea. Jack-up oil rigs arranged radially to integrate LNG bunkering with wharves in a nearshore facility can reduce time taken for loading and unloading cargo separately from time needed for bunkering. With jack-up rigs, recreational parks requiring large amounts of water can be placed nearshore so as to free up coastal land for strategic and essential developments. The propostion of offshore resort to mitigate environmental impact is explored with a semi-submersible rig and a jack-up rig of 5,000 m2 deck area, to accommodate the number of hotel rooms and a range of facilities recommended in the hospitality industry.
Joseph Lim
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