The view is unbeatable. To the right, steep volcanic mountains, draped in green, rise up from a beachside coconut grove. To the left, the Pacific Ocean glitters turquoise under the midday sun. It is here in this Tahitian lagoon that a group of entrepreneurs plans to build an artificial island — three-quarters of a hectare of floating housing and research space, made up of linked platforms. If the team is successful, the vision could become reality by 2020. But it would be just the first step, says self-described “seavangelist” Joe Quirk. The ultimate goal is to build whole sovereign nations on the open seas, composed of modular floating units.
“French Polynesia has all the stepping stones: lagoons, atolls, shallow waters right next to deeper waters,” Quirk says.
Quirk, one of five managing directors for the company behind the project, and his colleagues propose that artificial islands could serve as laboratories for testing out new technologies and exploring different social structures, or act as life rafts for coastal peoples displaced by sea-level rise.