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It's 2100. Humans haven't gained control of their carbon emissions. The earth has warmed up. The oceans have risen. Millions of ecological refugees have nowhere to go. Unless, of course, they had the foresight to build Lilypads.

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The brainchildren of Vincent Callebaut Architectures, the Lilypad is a design for an auto-sufficient amphibious city. If you've seen Wall-E, it's a bit like the Axiom spaceship – a giant city with everything needed for humans to survive a major catastrophe. It also looks a bit like something that might be built off the coast of Dubai.

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As Lilypad's creators suggest, though, anything built on or off the coast of Dubai right now will probably be under water by 2100. A floating ecopolis, however, will be immune to such problems, rising above the water, no matter how much of the polar icecaps melt. Watching your atolls sink? No problem. Add a Lilypad. Instant atoll.

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Lilypads have a further benefit. Build one or two off the coast of Dubai, Hong Kong or Monaco – and, flood or no flood, you can significantly increase the size of your kingdom or principality. Lilypads house 50,000 people, as well as plants and animals. They have lakes and mountains, schools and multiplexes.

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Inspired by the great lilypad of the Amazonia Victoria Regia, the floating eco-city is designed to be made of titanium dioxide, which absorbs atmospheric pollution. It'd also be carbon-neutral, self-sufficient and entirely recyclable. Nice idea. RM

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  • scuba guy

    June 21, 2011

    While I’m chilling at my local timmies on my floating city, a wave rolls in, knocks my coffee over along with anyone happening to be standing on their balconies. Extremely frustrated and seasick i hire a suicide bomber to kill everyone on our little pad by strapping on 50 pounds of c4 riding an elevator down to the basement, where the view is spectacular by the way, and blasting a giant hole in the bottom. bye bye.

  • jack

    July 6, 2010

    Open letter to all architects. Put away Photoshop and pick up a shovel.

  • paco

    July 6, 2010

    and i need bike


  • Premium WP Themes

    January 23, 2010

    Great science but be careful of tsunami or any other sea monster. It may eat up whole island.

  • pravin

    January 22, 2010

    I am a college student & want to make a project on LILIPAD so please give me some techinical information about LILIPAD.
    and guide me.

  • Rebecca

    September 22, 2009

    To AZ32Coyote: Have you actually read anything about the Native Americans? They weren’t entirely perfect when it came to coexisting with their natural environment and frequently ruined ecosystems. Maybe you should stop moping about the evil wealthy people and read something real.


    March 6, 2009

    It looks nice, parcially copied from my registered invention in WIPO but technically it cannot work unless i give my secret phenomena to the developer to float the massive weight safely and to get the best way of stability while moving or stationed. Too many people try to dream but not all dreams can come true.

  • Scott

    January 11, 2009

    This is nuts! The cost per person would be over-the-top at the same time that their financial resources would be wiped out. There will be plenty of open space left on dry land. Mass migration, although causing many problems, will still be cheaper and less problematic than science fiction.

  • AL

    January 6, 2009

    This would be powered by a combination of Solar and Hydro power. Now another big issue that arrives is food. You cannot possible grow or produce enough natural food for consumption of the entire group. We need only develop synthetic sustenance.

    Hopefully now you all can see creativity will drive ideas like this into existence so please, help progress this, not destroy it. As well as other ideas that will further our species instead of destroy our home.


    January 6, 2009


  • ScottW

    December 24, 2008

    This is a fantastic concept. well done.

    To be addressed though: fact is any one country is not yet completely immune to attacks from other countries or terrorist groups. This structure becomes an easy target during wartime, and would probably need to be evacuated.

    Also, the carbon neutral claim is bold, I’d like to see a plan for generating enough energy to keep this thing self-sustained.

  • columbo

    December 20, 2008

    This is an interesting idea. And a tsunami may be able to push an ocean liner around in the open sea but I seriously doubt that it could move a structure of this magnitude. We’re talking about some serious mass here. We have open ocean oil rigs that are anchored to the floor that withstand incredible storms every year.

  • Genevieve

    December 18, 2008

    Actually, Stargate Atlantis was my FIRST thought!
    Which led to my second thought of: how soon will we have the technology to submerge one of these cities? And will it have any means of propulsion?

  • Dan

    December 18, 2008

    Anyone seen Stargate Atlantis? This seems like the initial concept for what could evolve into a floating city capable of lifting off and traveling through space. Awesome idea, though. We are going to have to find new ways to inhabit the planet as the population continues to grow and the amount of exposed land continues to decrease. Space stations, moon colonization, underwater or floating cities… all of these are going to have to be considered.

  • bill

    December 18, 2008

    AZ32COYOTE, are you for or against? You’ve confused me and perhaps yourself.

  • Jason

    December 11, 2008

    Cool idea. But if it floats on water, what if something were to happen (it always could!) and it would start to sink? Would the surrounding coastal areas have the emergency infrastructure to evacuate upwards of fifty-thousand people in a short amount of time?

  • Genevieve

    December 8, 2008

    The issue isn’t whether a tsunami itself would harm these lilypads, but what happens during a tsunami if one of these is off the coast of a major city. Since it would be designed to float atop the water, it is likely to be slammed into the city, destroying far more than the tsunami would have, AND destroying itself as it collided with other man-made structures.
    This is an intriguing concept, but they should be placed farther out to sea.

  • az32coyote

    November 29, 2008

    What if there’s a tsunami? What happens to the poor people of the world? Just another example of societies wealthy helping themselves and shitting on little guy. If we had done like the indians, we wouldn’t need lilly pads to escape to. Ofcourse,then we might need more dialisiss centers to escape to. Neat drawings, but huge waste of time on something that will never be. But without visionaries, dreamers and necessity, who knows where we would be? Probably in caves.

  • Sexy Cheese

    November 21, 2008

    Thats pretty cool. This idea reminds me of a book called ‘Arcology: City in the image of man’ There are similar ideas about massive living structures. This seems like it would fit in that book really well

  • PhillyTom

    November 18, 2008

    Nice idea…stressing the word ‘idea.’ To me, the creative mind is much more attractive than the anti-creative mind (‘that’ll never work,’ ‘one tsunami and it’s gone,’ etc). What a bunch of spoilers here! It’s an IDEA.

    Creative people come up with ideas because they have vision. Disgruntled people knock them down because they lack vision and don’t have anything better to offer.

  • Sam

    November 11, 2008

    Maxwell, I am wondering why you believe this to be a disaster plan? Even if one lily could only support 250,000 people (That is just a random guesstimate). That would be 250,000 people who are no longer drawing on the earth’s resources to a measurable degree. If we were then to build more of these indepenant cities, we could make a sizeable impact into our current over crowding issues.

  • maxwell

    November 11, 2008

    You fools who said ‘I’d like to live on one’ and ‘I hope the future will be like this’ are the idiots who will make this a reality. This is a disaster plan, not a dream.

  • Chris

    November 4, 2008

    Agreeing with Sam here (to disagree with the other Chris), that tsunamis and rogue waves are NOT the same thing. Yes, rogue waves do exist in the open ocean (usually at more or less predictable places where strong storms can generate waves that work against or across strong currents, which does add to wave height). On the other hand, tsunamis in open ocean don’t normally raise the water level in a measurable way; certainly not a noticeable way for anyone floating over it. No, what I’d be most concerned about with these things is anchoring, avoiding collisions with other water craft — including other lilies — and navigating / moving to avoid coastal storms. That, and construction.

  • Sam

    November 4, 2008

    I would like to point out to our good friend Chris, that tsunamis are not in fact rogue waves as he has pointed out. Tsunami are formed from a seismic occurrence under or into the water. The source of these seismic happenings can come from earthquakes or from say very large rocks into the water. These happenings create very large ripples, or swells, which in turn move a lot of water. That water then moves until it

  • Al

    October 29, 2008

    Firstly IT FLOATS. That is why a tsunami will not effect it the whole City is designed to adjust to the water level. The structure itself can tilt with water. Imagine that something that floats being able to move with the waves…. Also sewage and garbage, there is an article on the internet about using E-Coli(not sure on the spelling) to breakdown any carbon based item to use for heat or energy. This includes sewage, garbage, any anything else you can think of. This is almost available now never mind a hundred years… Stop being pessimists and do some research. I don’t understand why you bloggers are so negative. Or critical. You are no better than anyone. I commend the designer. Creative.

  • chris

    October 17, 2008

    A tsumani would have a very large affect on a city like this…unlike JAY belives, tsunamis in the ocean reach great heights. 100ft+ but since the ocean in deep they dont crest the top of the water. But there have been reports of cruise liners almost getting swept sideways by these rouge waves. so if you think they are impervious to tsunamis you are sadly mistaken.

  • Rory

    October 16, 2008

    what sort of transportation will it use? light rail? segways? trolleys, golf karts? vacuum tubes? also, how would fire response work? sprinklers? seal and flood? not very easy to get a fire truck around on something like that, which is basically a giant apartment complex. how would a mass evacuation be handled? 500 titanics would be an extremely bad thing.

  • Adelle

    October 5, 2008

    kewl…do these habitations run on…salt? water? oxygen?

    where does the waste go (garbage, sewage, emissions if we are still using fossil fuels in those days)

    They are cool to look at, though. Very beautiful and peaceful looking. So clean.

  • Jay

    September 19, 2008

    If this is in deeper water, a tsunami would have no appreciable effect on it.

  • buttgoblin

    September 17, 2008

    they re invented the houseboat

  • AirButtMan

    September 16, 2008

    Life will be great until it’s wiped out by a tsunami.

  • Jackson

    September 16, 2008

    Why invoke carbon catastrophe? I could see something like this being built as a resort destination, whatever the sea level might be at the time (and could it perhaps be moved, seasonally?)

  • Jomark Osabel

    September 15, 2008

    Then how much will it cost to build one.

  • Ruben

    September 14, 2008

    Awesome, I hope the future will be like this!

  • robin

    September 13, 2008

    Wow that is so cool. i would live on one of those

  • Shaka

    September 11, 2008

    Oh, I like it. I ‘d line to live in the under-water-floor;)

Any comments?