Floating an idea

Giant structures in the sea are highly topical at the moment, not least because of ongoing debate over a new London airport in the Thames Estuary.


The UK’s engineers are sometimes harshly accused of not thinking big anymore. That’s certainly not a charge that can be levelled at Prof Carl Ross from PortsmouthUniversity, who as The Engineer Online reported has reached the final of a national competition with his vision of floating island-cities of 150,000 people, defying rising sea levels and powered by renewable energy.




Giant structures in the sea are highly topical at the moment, not least because of ongoing debate over a new London airport in the Thames Estuary, but Prof Ross’s plan is a different order of magnitude altogether. Homes, schools, hospitals, factories would all be built from scratch on the islands creating a kind of aquatic Milton Keynes.


Of course, the issue addressed by Ross is a serious one if the worst predictions of the effects of climate change around the world are even half-way fulfilled. But what would life on his island cities be like? Would swimming lessons be compulsory for every child? Would fish be the staple diet? Would seaside apartments retain their cachet, or would everyone be so sick of the sight of water that city-centre properties with not a wave to be seen become highly desirable?


Only time will tell. More immediately, if anyone wants to visit an island with all the amenities described above and serious ambitions to become self-sufficient in renewables there is an existing option. In fact, Prof Ross might even be able to see it from his study window. All aboard the Isle of Wight ferry!



Andrew Lee, Editor