suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Adam DAYEM: The year is 2100 and what was once called the nation of Kiribati is gone, its chains of low-lying islands have been completely submerged by the Pacific Ocean. Many I-Kiribati and their descendants have dispersed to Australia where they work in the health care industry or to New Zealand where they work as maritime shipping specialists. In these host nations, the I-Kiribati have become diffused. As a result, their culture and language has nearly died.
But rather than letting their culture become a myth of the lost like Atlantis, other I-Kiribati have refused to become refugees of climate change and elected to remain in place, at least geographically. They now live in a vertical city situated in the open ocean. The city is in shallow water directly above what used to be South Tarawa, the ex-capital of Kiribati on Tarawa Atoll. The city’s foundations are anchored into the earth, which is now approximately 20 feet underwater. It is an elaborate structure paid for through donations from the Chinese government, which in 2050, (rather than enforcing carbon reduction measures) chose to alleviate national guilt by donating billions of Yuan to island nations that were disappearing under rising oceans.
The ex-I-Kiribati living in the city of New Atlantis consider themselves exiles. They have been given an elaborate vertical structure that is largely self-sustaining and in some ways quite comfortable. But they have all lost their homes and culture, many have also lost their families. Politically, the city resides in a grey zone. The Kiribati state is no longer recognized by the United Nations, and New Atlantis is a city-state that operates outside normal international political and economic boundaries. As a result, the ex-I-Kiribati share their city with other voluntary exiles such as Eastern European digital pirates, American eco-terrorists, and escaped Chinese political prisoners.
Physically, the city is isolated, far from any significant landmass, cut-off from jet travel, and even distanced from trans-pacific shipping lanes. But digitally it is as networked as any metropolitan high-rise building. As such, it has become significant base of operations for politically and economically grey activities.
Structure: Two sets of twisting vertical elements intertwine with each other. One set holds the floorplates, contains the residential spaces, and is skinned with translucent lexan. The other set, which works as the primary vertical building structure, contains the circulation cores and is constructed from lightweight fiber reinforced concrete. The horizontal arms of the city, which spread over the water, are floating aluminum and lexan structures. Floatation allows the arms to absorb energy of waves in the water and for the city to adapt to continually rising sea levels.
Climate: The building does not incorporate a traditional climate control system, as this would over-tax the building’s energy generation capacity, and it is not necessary the warm South Pacific climate. Most of the structure’s interior spaces are only partially enclosed; wind and rain infiltration is accepted and even welcome.
Circulation: There are two vertical lifts that run curving routes up though the building. These are generally used only for service because their operation strains the building’s energy supply. Vertical circulation is primarily accomplished by walking up and down stairs. Commuting from the residential zone to the lower levels, especially when carrying food, is arduous, but a normal part of life in the city. Because of the effort it takes to circulate vertically, it is usually not done more than once a day. As a result, large-group gathering and meeting spaces are scattered vertically throughout the building.
Energy: The building generates its own energy with windbelt technology. The windbelt is a taut band held in place by a carbon-fiber frame. The windbelts are gathered into bundles that sprout from the upper reaches of the tower like hair. The building’s battery system stores electricity when winds are high, and this surplus is usually enough to power essential systems during periods of low winds. But the city survives by being frugal with its power. Energy priorities go first to water desalination and second to computing equipment.
Food: Many residents of the city are excellent fisherman. The city’s floating horizontal arms are used as boat docks and seafood processing areas. The horizontal arms also house saltwater greenhouses and desalination units.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
AD: Francis Bacon’s novel New Atlantis, Bruce Sterling’s science fiction short stories.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
AD: Ray Kurzweil, Brian Greene, Tolstoy.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
AD: Future Cities Lab, Aurélie Mossé, Tom Beddard (subblue).
Additional credits and links:
Project developed with assistance from Kangsan Danny Kim