04.25.14 | Matt Johnson’s essay “Extraterritorialized! Data Havens, Red Light Districts, Radical Offshoring, and Other Extrastate Enclaves of Globalism” was published in Dutch architecture journal Volume.
• Building lots on the water costs nothing.
• Interference of building codes is much less. (civil engineering ruling sets)
• Interference of all kind of interferers is much less. (neighbors, city developement plans, politics)
• Construction is about moving heavy things around which is much easier on the water.
• You can sell a floating house worldwide so produce much beyond the local market.
• The economy of scale is much easier on the water.
• Cement is not comming from a land based plant that locks the local market into a monopoly - it comes in ship from China or elswhere globally.
• The access road to the development needs not to be built, unimited access for container load sized items, and heavy cranes, is there already.
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Let’s consider how the real estate business already works, the Mc Donalds model: Location, Location, Location cannot be over emphasized, but what does it mean?
Is it an ideal geographical feature? Far from it, according to the Mc Donalds model it is areas of high human traffic (of specific, parameters, in their case first generation with disposable income - Starbucks, second generation disposable income)
It is the same model as every other large global property holder.
It follows that a piece of property is only valuable relative to the economic activity of people around it, which is a highly flexible variable.
We already see that neutral spaces that can be adapted to multiple uses (dictated by the market, trends, events) fare better than buildings of a specific typology. The temporary kiosk or stand inside the neutral shelter of an exhibitionc center, shopping mall or sports arena is a good example of space rationalization.
Mobility makes any piece of floating property inherently more valuable and less conflictive.
If we take a cubic meter of shelter in the middle of the desert the high cost of transportation would negate the little cost of the “land”.
If seaworthy, the same cubic meter of waterproof shelter would be on free territory, but the distance to pre existing human activity can be flexible and always less expensive to bridge.
Imagine a hotel: Furnishing can be done close to a neighborhood in need of employment, and then towed for exploitation near that chic neighborhood or secluded beach. Before any external change the floating property business can adjust and be towed, instead of the business being separated from the property and migrate.
The World Ocean, traffic density around and in between continental islands. Notice large clusters in South Pacific: Polynesian civilization can be more easily noticed in a map by their boats than by their landmass.
Wil Ellmer, you have conducted specific experiments in both large volumes of ocean worthy real estate, that is the underwater yachts, as well as light platforms well suited for a protected bay or attoll.
Would you say your work in Europe and South America could be replicated worldwide at similar ballpark numbers?
@Matias | An interesting picture showing in a single glimpse that in our globalized world connections have become more important than borders and states - The red dots on the coastlines representing the hubs also show that the real important part is the coastline - not the hinterland. The coast is where the harbors and the connections to the global networks are situated. The new maps are not maps of states with borders the maps of the future are maps of network connections. Most of this global networking takes place on the water - already - as we speak.This is the real potential of Seasteading and oceanic nations like Polynesia.
And McDonald’s corporation largely makes its real money off of franchisees paying fees that purchase real estate for the corporation which is later sold when the franchise goes out of business. Nothing about the McDonald’s model has anything to do with mobile real estate, rather the opposite they make their money as a company that disposes of the real estate for a profit rather than a business that makes money in a particular place. Many of the elements that McDonald’s uses to approve particular franchise locations are actively inimical to the franchisee’s success. Did a case study on this in grad school.
And sorely lacking on water outside of a very few densely populated harbors.
Not necessarily, certain purposes require purpose-built buildings, others do not.
Not really, because the center was built with the purpose of hosting many smaller tenants. That does not mean that the tenants are more rational then the landlord. It’s simply a different business model.
If this were true, the market would reflect it.
Point one- yes this is often the case. Point two: there is less competition for the territory, but more cost to starting and maintaining a building upon it due to the dynamic nature of the foundation under it. Long term maintenance cost of a building in the desert is less than of a ship- Ellmer makes the point about cost-effectiveness of ships all the time. A cubic meter of “building” in the desert doesn’t have to float, for years, with minuscule chance of failure to float. If you have to abandon the building in a fire your plan B requires no more than walking outside. To claim that the cost of maintenance of other floating platforms will be significantly less than the maintenance of an oil platform’s flotation simply doesn’t make much sense. The operational costs of such a platform would probably vary, but basic maintenance of structural integrity and buoyancy is unlikely to do so.
As for less expensive to transport on water than transport in the desert- maybe, maybe not. Cost effectiveness depends on volume as well as distance. Volume depends upon demand, which depends upon population. Shipping food for 50 people to an arbitrary point half-way between San Diego and Hawaii is much more expensive than shipping food for 1000 from San Diego to Seattle. There are hundreds of carriers taking the latter trip every day, with competition, established re-supply of fuel, infrastructure, experienced drivers, navigation aids (signs) and lots of co-terminous traffic.
Here we start to explicitly separate the cost of construction from the cost of maintenance. TCO has yet to be addressed, nor the cost effectiveness or ROI. I can spend exactly the same amount in setting up two projects, and have one fail while the other succeeds wildly. the difference would be in the profit margin. one of them makes lots of money, one makes little money.
The picture is great but lacking context. Contrast it to land-based patterns of the same type of traffic.
Overall, I believe that the ability to claim 2-D & 3-D space that no one else will fight you for is considerably greater on the ocean. You won’t have to pay someone for the space, but the construction has equivalent or higher costs, the maintenance has higher costs, and the convenience varies greatly. There HAS to be some relatively closed loops of local production to make it cost effective.
Larry it is an iron rule that water transport costs far less energy than land or otherwise - if you’d like to debate me on that or other offshoot topic I’ll take it at drinking hole.
When mentioning MCD I refer to the way they chose a location. You may replace that with the Catholic Church. or if you’re interested in low density inland desert homesteading and urbanization, then the LDS Mormon model.
I agree that not all water surface is valued the same, hence the maritime traffic map. The idea that a particularly shallow locations are more valuable than, say the Straits of Malacca or a deep harbor next to a thriving coastal city is wrong, misguided in the same way as putting the Moken as an example.
Because floating islands can float permanently but be moored only temporary and at discretion, then it is obvious that we never minded “oversight”. Unlike land ownership, floating real estate has a more flexible relation with the powers that be, and it matters less.
This is wrong, unless you mean sail vs internal combustion engines. Boats use more fuel per mile than diesel vehicles of similar capacity.
The Moken have a history of living independently, and self-sufficiently, as an entire society, almost entirely at sea, which is the GOAL of seasteading. As opposed to some behemoth ship, or barge, they did it with small, yacht-sized family boats. You shouldn’t be so dismissive of a people that have already achieved the very goals behind this whole movement.
More applicable to this topic than the drinking hole. The thing you’re leaving out is the SCALE. You can transport LARGE sizes/amounts of things on water at a scale that cannot be done on land. But when you transport SMALL amounts of things to LOTS of different destinations, water transport cannot come close to the economics of land shipping. No more than it can come close to the speed of air shipping.
Scale matters. Just like the title of this thread. Cost of a cubic meter doesn’t scale linearly to a a cubic kilometer.
So maybe a tightly knit network of asphalt should be the goal, better still if we can have a government subsidize it, because in the Amazon jungle they’ve had cities for hundreds of years right next to navigable rivers, but dirt roads are still an enourmosly expensive (in all senses) challenge.
Maybe human activity depends on a fair mix of large and small objects. With that in mind an elevator city connected to the maritime trade network seems ideal.
Well, sorry if putting things in context is cold water to your enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is great and necessary, but so is acknowledgement of reality. Unbounded enthusiasm with out balance doesn’t convince investors either.
My awareness of the relative efficiencies of shipping modes started a few years back in grad school. North America has a system of roads that was designed for high-speed rapid transit and justified by military preparedness. We have a well-developed rail system, and decent to really good inland waterway shipping.
We use rail shipping of goods almost to the exclusion of passenger rail. This brings us under a lot of criticism from Europhiles who think we should all be riding trains, despite the vast differences in geography and logistics in the two continents.
There has been a drastic change in oceanic shipping patterns and technology in the last two-three decades. Some ports have dropped off hugely, others have been expanded hugely. The ability to handle containerized cargo has been expanded, made more efficient through computer tracking, RFID tagging and other tech, engineering techniques and materials that have allowed ships to scale massively up, computer controlled/assisted cargo handling cranes etc.
Computers and telecommunications have enabled just-in-time ordering and logistics, lean manufacturing techniques have squeezed efficiencies (at the cost of redundancy to be sure) and the margin of fat has been trimmed almost everywhere.
Boats are cheaper AT VERY LARGE SCALE. Not at small scale. Not even at the medium scale, like a single or handful of ISO cargo containers.
Different business models make different profit margins. They make different choices, have different advantages and customer bases, and therefore different requirements. The cost of shipping a single pair of shoes from Zappo’s will not justify using a cargo ship, but does warrant a spot on the circuit of a FedEx truck route. that pair of shoes may have been on a cargo ship at one point. It may have been on a truck at multiple points from production to aggregate shipper to final distribution. In that chain, one of those shipping methods is not BETTER than the other. They all work together. None of them could do it alone. I can’t drive a cargo ship to Oklahoma City to drop off shoes. But neither can I drive that cargo ship from Hawaii to Vanuatu to deliver a single pair of shoes.
If I had to use our 27’ bayliner to deliver pizzas from Vancouver to Portland, I would have to charge hundred$ per delivery and set expectations to be like an internet service or cable provider- 4 hour windows. Our boat uses about 20 gallons per hour and cruises about 25 MPH. A round trip from our marina on the Columbia River to the downtown waterfront in Portland is about 37 miles. Boats are not cheaper than land transportation. The same trip in my car would cost me about 1.5 gallons of gas, and take a little over 20 minutes, with traffic involved.
Especially about the remote/island locations whose economy was ruined by shipping scaling up past their ability to support. these are also opportunities, but only if the right-sized niche business can figure out a way to service them.
And there’s a reason Oklahoma City is smaller than Houston, or that every major town in Oregon is in fact along the Columbia, Snake or the small protected bays in the Pacific - but you obviously understand the advantages of water in terms of accessibility. All the last explored or mapped territories were inland when all (liquid) ocean islands had been charted.
The Question is whether it’s more economic to build on the water, or more specifically if conditions are ripe for this transition.
I used to deliver Pizzas in a Ford F250 Supercab, that MIGHT have achieved a whopping 13 mpg. One community was far enough out, orders were accumulated, then calls made to verify and pre-pay them, prior to any driver going out, minimum capacity was cost equivalent to 5 extra-large Pizzas. I also kept coolers of iced down drinks, as my side-business specifically for that run. Even at small scales, the system can work, as long as you know the margins.
At the end it burns down to cost of production versus sales market value of a real estate squaremeter …
In Cartagena (Caribben) i tested a production cost of around | USD 166 | and a sales value of USD 17.000 for a real estate square meter. Which means a dollar of investment comes back a 102 times as ROI.
Which further means a sustained capital investment yield of 10%+ (five times average wall street blue chip yield) is feasible on a “low risk base” in the business of ocean colonization…that should “get some interest” from real estate developers around the globe…
provided we can manage it to get the attention from pizza delivery to topics of global interest and make an argument that creates an impact…
For the investor who takes a gradual approach to revolutionary concepts your land banking Uruquay seems to be an interesting offer…starting on land and leading the real estate investor gradually to oceanic investments. - Genius ! - it reminds me the early seasteading days of “seasteading outpost belize” but it has become more sophisticated…and definitly enhanced on investor credibility.
Prototyping and projecting a market price are one thing. Where is the production? If that’s the difference between us “toodlers” and “you professionals”, then where is the result?
Real prices are driven by the market, even real estate comparisons in the same neighborhood are only estimates and often wildly inaccurate compared to eventual sales price when there haven’t been enough recent sales in the neighborhood to establish a baseline.
My analogy using the pizza deliveries is borne out by Jeff’s point as well- scale matters on logistics. It does not scale linearly.
Yeah, I have an F250 Crew cab now (diesel). About 14 mpg city, maybe 18-19 highway.
It’s still about 15 times better mpg than our boat. We literally burn almost 20 gallons of gasoline to go 20 miles. The engine is a V-8 mercruiser, basically a Chevrolet 305 (5.0 liter). The F250 is a 6.0 liter diesel. The boat weighs just over 5000 lbs dry. the truck weighs just under 6000 lbs. I can load the boat with about 10 people and camping gear for a weekend, at which point I’m lucky to make 10 mph upstream in the 5 knot current of the Columbia. I can tow 12,500 lbs or carry over 5000 lbs in the truck and still make 60 mph on flat roads.
The boat cost something like $70k new (we bought it used), the truck cost about $50k (new). The engine has been replaced in the boat twice since 2001 (second time was a blatant abuse that caused a serious mechanical issue). The truck (2006) is expected to go to half a million miles without serious issues. At 63k miles right now, it is just getting broken in.
I can buy a new 24ft travel trailer for about $10k minimum and tow it easily with the truck. Between the truck and travel trailer, I could live in it, with complete mobility between Canada, U.S. and Mexico. If I have a mechanical problem with either, I can get a tow to a facility that will let me rent space indefinitely. It won’t sink.
Even just the United States is an area larger than anyone could possibly hope to travel and fully explore in a lifetime, less than 4-5 generations ago. Everywhere I might go has something interesting about it- unlike an undifferentiated patch of water in the open ocean. The difference between the laws, culture, and economy of each state is considerable. I can find work of various kinds in any of them. The cost of real estate varies even more widely.
And I am a proponent of seasteading. I am excited by the idea. I’m already convinced that it is worth doing on some level, if not strictly economical reasons. You’ll have to martial some better arguments to convince actual skeptics.
Yes we do debate it- your blanket claim that water transport is more economic than land transport is wrong, incorrect, and stupid.
It depends entirely on the scale. It takes literally millions of people travelling to make a market that justifies an international airport. It takes millions of people to make a market that justifies Panamax or larger cargo ships calling on a regular basis.This is the scale at which water transport becomes cheaper than land.
Islands all over the Caribbean suffer from high shipping costs of items I can pick up at Home Depot for pennies. It’s a common topic of discussion in any real estate forum about the Caribbean. It’s a common stumbling block for NGOs and non-profits in these areas, or all over the Pacific. If water shipping were that much cheaper in all cases, then the cost of goods in Hawaii would be no higher than Portland and this is demonstrably NOT the case.