Designed as a long-term solution for future climate refugees, Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut is putting together a floating Ecopolis prototype called LILYPAD. According to the GIEC (Intergovernmental Group in the Evolution of the Climate), the ocean level should rise from 8 to 35 inches (20 to 90 cm) during the 21st century. A temperature rise of one degree translates into three feet (1 meter) of rising water. Whether it’s the icecaps in Antarctica and Greenland or the Continental Glaciers, rising water will bring widespread ground loss in developed and developing countries.

Some of the biggest estimated land losses: 1% in Egypt, 6% in the Netherlands, 17.5% in Bangladesh, and 80% in the Marshall, Maldives, and Kiribati Islands. With over 50 million affected in developing countries, there needs to be a viable solution. Unfortunately, the most fertile fields will be covered in floodwaters. Since salt water is detrimental to plant life, developing countries will be wiped out of the very resources that are critical to sustains their existence.

Results from a climatology study by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) predict 250 million climate refugees displaced and 9% of the GDP affected by water dilation.

Major cities across the globe (NYC, Bombay, Calcutta, Ho Chi Minh City, Miami, Lagos, Abidjan, Djakarta, and Alexandria) stand to feel the most impact.

LILYPAD Satisfies the Four Challenges of the OECD

Lilypad, a floating Ecopolis for ecological refugees, is a self-sufficient amphibious city that satisfies the four challenges the OECD outline in March of 2008: climate, biodiversity, water and health. Capable of supporting 50,000 refugees, Callebaut’s Lilypad prototype comes with three marinas, three mountains, a centrally located artificial lagoon and is made of polyester fibers covered by a layer of titanium dioxide (T.O2). Covered in planted housing in suspended gardens and a network of streets, Lilypad is a half aquatic, half terrestrial city that invites biodiversity.

Renewable Energy Integration

Designed with layers of sub-aquatic dwellings, the amphibian Ecopolis integrates all of the renewable energies (solar, thermal and photovoltaic energies, wind energy, hydraulic, tidal power station, osmotic energies, phytopurification, and biomass). Filled with aquaculture fields and biotic corridors, Lilypad is a fully sustainable, zero emission city catering to the cycles of nature. Whether it’s purifying the used water with minerals from the aquaculture fields or absorbing atmospheric pollution via the photocatalytic effect, Lilypad will be an eco-friendly utopia producing more energy than it consumes.

Socio-Political Challenges of LILYPAD

From the selection process to recognizing the rights of the 50,000 climate refugees, there are a number of socio-political challenges that must be addressed prior to accepting its first habitants. Without an international body governing Callebaut’s auto-sufficient amphibious city, it may be difficult to achieve the harmonious existence between nature and humans.

EcoTech Innovation Critical to LILYPAD’s Longevity

One thing is for sure: eco-technological innovation will play an instrumental role in creating Lilypad’s fully sustainable society. Whether it’s using synthetic photosynthesis to capture CO2 or turning air into drinkable water using solar panels, the acceptance of renewable energy innovation will be critical to Project Lilypad’s evolution from prototype to Ecopolis.