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New Kiribati
Vicent Callebaut

Earlier this month, the president of Kiribati warned the nations of the world that his country will be gone by century's end. Submerged under rising sea level, a casualty of climate change.

And even if, by some ridiculously well-timed miracle, everyone reduces their carbon footprint to near zero, the 92,000 island inhabitants “may be at the point of no return” where reversing the effects of the emissions already in the atmosphere will not come before their atolls get flooded. The president thus asked for help in resettling his people.

While very impolitic, he should demand from the worst polluting nations that as an act of “redemption” they should set aside “reservations” in prime real estate, for instance, some of the Hawaiian islands, where the entire population can collectively forge a new set of geographic identitites instead of being dispersed in diasporic communities around the world.

Maybe China is open to the idea of deleting a part of the Tibetan plateau and exporting the pulverized geology to the Pacific. They will, of course, argue that this a form of carbon emission trading.

Perhaps more appropriately, the European Union could give the president an order or two of Vincent Callebaut's Lilypad.

Vicent Callebaut

Quoting Archinect, where we first saw this featured.

LILYPAD is a true amphibian - half aquatic and half terrestrial city - able to accommodate 50,000 inhabitants and inviting the biodiversity to develop its fauna and flora around a central lagoon of soft water collecting and purifying the rain waters. This artificial lagoon is entirely immersed, ballasting the city. It enables inhabitants to live in the heart of the sub aquatic depths. The multi functional program is based on three marinas and three mountains dedicated to work, shopping and entertainment. The whole set is covered by a stratum of planted housing in suspended gardens and crossed by a network of streets and alleyways with organic outline. The goal is to create a harmonious coexistence of humans and nature, exploring new modes of cross-cultural aquatic living.

Kiribati would probably need a less pimped out version, unless, of course, they realign their economy away from fish and phosphate towards eco-tourism — which leads us to wonder: will future climate change refugees become a new caste of service sector workers inhabiting a sort of Floating Hotel & Duty Free Mall, the port of call that comes to you, wherein the fine art of the greeting and linen folding is treated as a Masonic secret passed down from one generation to the next?

In any case, some more unabashedly digital images.

Vicent Callebaut

Vicent Callebaut

Vicent Callebaut

Meanwhile, this is MER, by PLOT, now BIG and JDS.

Notice any resemblance?


The Vortex of 80,000 Nikes

New South China Sea
  • timothy
  • June 16, 2008 at 7:56:00 PM CDT
  • Sounds precisely like the true version of Kim Stanley Robinson's Khembalung in "Forty Signs of Rain": A small island off coast of India that is slowly being flooded by rising tides. Wish I could provide more than that but I read it along time ago and haven't read the other two parts yet. Maybe Mr Manaugh could provide the rest of the story.

  • Anonymous
  • June 17, 2008 at 3:51:00 AM CDT
  • All lilypad images are by pixelab. Us poor architectural visualisers never get a mention....

  • Anonymous
  • June 17, 2008 at 3:54:00 AM CDT
  • Looks like a straight ripoff of PLOT.

  • Pixel
  • June 17, 2008 at 4:46:00 AM CDT
  • thanks peter ;) You're my new Public relations ;)

  • Anonymous
  • June 17, 2008 at 6:00:00 AM CDT
  • Looks like it's sponsored by Mercedes-Benz. Just look at some of the windows.

  • C Neal
  • June 17, 2008 at 11:25:00 AM CDT
  • Speaking of climate-inspired lilypads, have you seen the proposal for solar lilypads in Glasgow's River Clyde?

    I think the Benz windows are supposed to be wind turbines. But it's interesting to think about the similarities between the gestures of wearing a hood ornament around your neck, and photoshopping windmills or solar panels into your architectural renderings.

  • Alexander Trevi
  • June 17, 2008 at 1:20:00 PM CDT
  • Sorry Pixelab. Image info has been corrected. And thanks Peter and Pixel!

  • Michael
  • June 20, 2008 at 7:15:00 AM CDT
  • what about that free Mercedes commercial...i know they are supposed to be wind turbines...but they are like alle in the same position

  • Anonymous
  • June 20, 2008 at 3:27:00 PM CDT
  • Too bad global warming alarmism is grossly overblown and rooted in awful science and political expediency. Those are some pretty sweet pseudo-islands though.

  • Alexander Trevi
  • June 20, 2008 at 5:13:00 PM CDT
  • “Too bad global warming alarmism is grossly overblown..."


    "and rooted in awful science..."


    "and political expediency.”


  • Aparana Chauhan
  • June 24, 2008 at 7:31:00 AM CDT
  • I think we all are on the same boat as the Kiribati. We all are not too far away from future turmoil and devastation.

  • Anonymous
  • June 25, 2008 at 11:16:00 PM CDT
  • Even if global warming didn't happen, islands like these would still be handy. Fish farming, mobile military bases, energy and mineral production all come to mind.

  • Douglas
  • June 26, 2008 at 8:29:00 PM CDT
  • The forms are interesting,and the renderings are great, but what is the life of the inhabitants like in this place? People seem to be only sprinkles on the megastructure cake.

  • lu-n-am
  • June 27, 2008 at 10:14:00 PM CDT
  • This looks like the set of some scifi movie. Amazing design, but I have to agree with Douglas...what would life be like on one of these "vessels"...
    ps. nice blog :)

  • Anonymous
  • June 28, 2008 at 12:27:00 AM CDT
  • Unbelievable.

  • Anonymous
  • June 28, 2008 at 3:43:00 PM CDT
  • I wonder about waking up to the same boring view every morning. It would be nice every once in a while like for a vacation. But if I were a Kiribatian I would not want my president to opt for these psudo-islands for our homeland. It's too regular. I'm wondering if it could be made to look more natural? And what about fauna? We need our animal friends to complete any ecosystem.

  • diid
  • June 30, 2008 at 1:49:00 AM CDT
  • there are no animals worth mentioning on kiribati, apart from birds and fishes.
    the main land-dwelling animals on the islands are pigs, rats, and stray dogs.
    otoh, these 'animal friends' would certainly be more than willing to live in such structures.

    apart from that, these designs are probably more adequate for those multi-millionaires who can afford a helicopter lift to their appartment, as i don't see any space for aeroplane runways or harbour basins.

    implementing this idea in a country like kiribati is roughly as realistic as property development in the slums of lagos, or gentrification in magnitogorsk.

  • Alexander Trevi
  • June 30, 2008 at 2:32:00 PM CDT
  • Which idea? There are several proposals in the post.

    1) Reservations?

    2) Tibet?

    3) New Kiribati v1.0, or: Lilypad as is?

    4) New Kiribati v2.0, or: Lilypad less pimped out?

    5) Floating Hotel & Duty Free Mall, or: Kiribatians as stateless migrant employees of oceanic Las Vegases?

  • diid
  • July 3, 2008 at 2:19:00 AM CDT
  • i'd probably take no.5, and replace the lilypad by any kind of cruise liner. foreign shipping agencies nowadays employ roughly one quarter of the i-kiribati workforce, thus already being the second largest employer after the government.

    i don't see the i-kiribati becoming stateless either, they will probably end up in some council housing scheme in brisbane, or as taiwanese or PRC citizens.

    there will be many countries on the pacific rim which would willingly trade the responsibility for ~100 000 extra citizens for fishing grounds the size of india.

  • Anonymous
  • July 6, 2008 at 12:31:00 PM CDT
  • With all due respect, please keep in mind that we are talking about real people here. This is not some technological thriller/fantasy. And these people had the techological prowess and courage to sail across the Pacific, long before GPS and contemporary navigation systems, with their children, their animals, and their seedlings, to make a new home in the islands of Kiribati. Anyone whose ancestors made the move across the Pacific and found tiny atolls to set up shack on is probably already brainstorming ideas on how to survive a significant rise in sea level, and I hope we can do our best to support their efforts and our own by actively keeping our common homeland cleaner and more liveable.

  • Anonymous
  • July 13, 2008 at 5:45:00 AM CDT
  • Blog imitates life:

  • Anonymous
  • July 22, 2008 at 1:12:00 PM CDT
  • This type of story needs to be publicized in many other places to support the efforts of the idea and country.

  • arachesostufo
  • August 5, 2008 at 2:54:00 PM CDT
  • fantastic rendering.. ciao da Venezia italy

  • Anonymous
  • May 29, 2009 at 9:01:00 AM CDT
  • We are talking about REAL people and as a kiribati girl it's hurtful to think that the world thinks of us a lab rats for impractical ideas when we need a real solution and we need one now.

  • Brice Linane
  • February 27, 2010 at 8:04:00 PM CST
  • I've seen this project quite a bit over the past couple years but never knew anything about its proposed application. I thinks its a beautiful proposal but I seriously agree with you comment "Kiribati would probably need a less pimped out version". It would be interesting to develop a prototype which functions solely as a tourist destination that could eventually fund the construction of future units for refugees. Still, this seems improbable, but interesting nevertheless.

    On the other hand, Its pristine qualities bother me. Everyone, including myself, loves to see beautiful renderings. But, it would be really great to imaging the effects of the ocean and climate, increasing population, and growth of vegetation upon a floating vessel such as this.

  • Snowmeow
  • August 19, 2010 at 9:09:00 AM CDT
  • The Lilypads are beautiful, but unviable; Where would they be built? The solution to Kiribati would be easier with the Mega-Float (, that can be built in any shipyard, is already tested and approved, and is modular, allowing to Kiribatians decide their island's size.

  • Jason
  • February 13, 2011 at 5:46:00 PM CST
  • This is way cool. I'd really love to see Kiribati in a more developed and modernized society. Yet I wonder of what effects there would be in growing tress and other life form on this floating vessel. The ecosystem has its own balance into it. I wonder what kind of ecosystem there would be in having relocating soil and other life form onto a ship!

    The whole idea sounds possible, just like the creation of motors to replace horses and wind to power transportation and other manual labor, yet we are now living in the consequence of that action, our great concern right now is fighting Global Warming and saving our rising generations. This project is beautiful way cool.

    Yet I am so curious of the new impact this will have on the people and natural environment of Kiribati. Its a beautiful idea indeed; ideas always leads to an action, and taking an action on an idea leads to a consequence, I wounder what lies there?

  • Anonymous
  • March 17, 2012 at 1:19:00 AM CDT
  • you have all drank the kool aid.

  • Anonymous
  • November 7, 2013 at 2:01:00 AM CST
  • Good grief - islands rise and sink all the time; it's certainly not rising ocean levels - but let me reassure you a new study shows there is no danger of it disappearing

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