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Lilypad is the vision for a floating Ecopolis for Climate Refugees, in the year of 2100. It is a prototype for a self-sufficient amphibious city, by architect Vincent Callebaut.

Further to the anthropogenic activity, the climate warms up and the ocean level increases. According to the principle of Archimedes and contrary to preconceived notions, the melting of the arctic ice-floe will not change the rising of the water exactly as an ice cube melting in a glass of water does not make its level rise. However, there are two huge ice reservoirs that are not on the water and whose melting will transfer their volume towards the oceans, leading to their rising. It deals with the ice caps of Antarctic and Greenland on the one hand, and the continental glaciers on the other hand. Another reason of the ocean rising, that does not have anything to do with the ice melting is the water dilatation under the effect of the temperature.

According to the less alarming forecasts of the GIEC (Intergovernmental group on the evolution of the climate), the ocean level should rise from 20 to 90 cm during the 21st Century with a status quo by 50 cm (versus 10 cm in the 20th Century). The international scientific scene assets that a temperature elevation of 1°C will lead to a water rising of 1 meter. This increase of 1 m would bring ground losses emerged of approximately 0.05% in Uruguay, 1% in Egypt, 6% in the Netherlands, 17.5% in Bangladesh and up to 80% approximately in the atoll Majuro in Oceania (Marshall and Kiribati islands and step by step the Maldives islands).

If the first meter is not very funny with more than 50 million of people affected in the developing countries, the situation is worse with the second one. Countries like Vietnam, Egypt, Bangladesh, Guyana or Bahamas will see their most inhabited places swamped at each flood and their most fertile fields devastated by the invasion of salt water damaging the local ecosystems. New York, Bombay, Calcutta, Hô Chi Minh City, Shanghai, Miami, Lagos, Abidjan, Djakarta, Alexandria… not les that 250 million of climatic refugees and 9% of the GDP threatened if we not build protections related to such a threat. It is the demonstration inflicted to reluctant spirits by a climatological study of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) and that challenges our imagination of eco-conception!

The floating structure in « branches » of the Ecopolis is directly inspired of the highly ribbed leave of the great lilypad of Amazonia Victoria Regia increased 250 times. Coming from the family of Nympheas, this aquatic plant with exceptional plasticity was discovered by the German botanist Thaddeaus Haenke and dedicated to the Queen Victoria of England in the 19th Century. The double skin is made of polyester fibres covered by a layer of titanium dioxide (TiO2) like an anatase which by reacting to the ultraviolet rays enable to absorb the atmospheric pollution by photocatalytic effect. Entirely autosufficient, Lilypad takes up the four main challenges launched by the OECD in March 2008: climate, biodiversity, water and health. It reached a positive energetic balance with zero carbone emission by the integration of all the renewable energies (solar, thermal and photovoltaic energies, wind energy, hydraulic, tidal power station, osmotic energies, phytopurification, biomass) producing thus durably more energy that it consumes! True biotope entirely recyclable, this floating Ecopolis tends thus towards the positive eco-accountancy of the building in the oceanic ecosystems by producing and softening itself the oxygen and the electricity, by recycling the CO2 and the waste, by purifying and softening biologically the used waters and by integrating ecological niches, aquaculture fields and biotic corridors on and under its body to meet its own food needs.

To reply to the mutation of the migratory flows coming from the hydroclimatic factors, Lilypad join thus on the mode of anticipation particular to the Jules Verne’s literature, the alternative possibility of a multicultural floating Ecopolis whose metabolism would be in perfect symbiosis with the cycles of the nature. It will be one of the major challenges of the 21st Century to create an international convention inventing new special means to accommodate the environmental migrants by recognizing their rights and obligations. Political and social challenge, the urban sustainable development must more than ever enter in resonance worldly with the human sustainable development!

PROGRAM : Floating Ecopolis for Climate Refugees / Mixing Uses
SURFACE AREA : 500.000 m_
PERSPECTIVES : Philippe Steels
Spread The Word - fostering a discourse for social design - 2007
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