Are Floating Cities The Next Frontier?
Categories: Homes / Dwellings, Tech
If things go as planned, the group may break ground on a seastead off the coast of the island chain, a territory of France, as early as 2017. The new city could consist of two or three platforms that each cover half a football field and house 30 people. Should the pilot program prove successful, more platforms would be added.
The Seasteading Institute, cofounded by billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel and Google software engineer Patri Friedman (the grandson of economist Milton Friedman) sent waves through Silicon Valley when it was created in 2008. The group set out to develop a floating city that would serve as a permanent, politically autonomous settlement.
Thiel, who invested some $1.7 million in the project, envisioned a sort of libertarian utopia.
"The United States Constitution had things you could do at the beginning that you couldn't do later. So the question is, can you go back to the beginning of things? How do you start over?" Thiel, who resigned from the group's board in 2011 and continued to give financial support through 2014, told Details Magazine in 2011.
The group's ambitions are thought by some Silicon Valley influencers to be too wild, financially burdensome, and elitist to generate real results.But the new relationship with French Polynesia shows there's hope yet.
Fritch is currently reviewing a memorandum of understanding, a document that would cement the government's intent to work with theSeasteading Institute. The government has not begun drafting the legislation that would permit theseastead's development.
Hencken envisions the floating city as a rig that's small but self-sufficient. Residents shop for food on the seastead and hop on a speedboat to complete more substantial errands on the neighboring French Polynesian islands. Each housing platform would be modular, so if a person were to grow tired of life on the seastead, they could simple unhook their home and sail away.
The starting cost of construction will be about $30 million, though that's subject to change, Hencken says. Each additional platform sets the group back $15 million. The institute hopes to raise money from a handful of investors (whom Hencken declined to name), future residents, and interested parties in the maritime industry.