Artificial "floating" islands could replace the sinking Maldives

A number of seaside nations are expanding their coastlines by constructing offshore artificial islands — beautifully structured land masses that are being used for tourism, the commercial sector and even residential purposes. But rising sea levels are making this a precarious proposition at best, particularly for the Maldives — a country that's just five feet above sea level. But working with a Dutch company, the country may have come up with a rather elegant solution: floating islands.

Reporting in PopSci Katerine Gammon describes the project:

Artificial "floating" islands could replace the sinking Maldives

The Maldivian government has started a joint venture with the architectural firm Dutch Docklands International to build the world's largest artificial floating-island project, which will stay above water no matter how many glaciers melt. In the Netherlands, the company has already built floating islands for prisons and housing from slabs of concrete and polystyrene foam. For the Maldives, it will anchor similar structures to the seabed using cables or telescopic mooring piles, making landforms that are stable even in storms. The design disturbs only a small patch of the seafloor while preserving natural currents. And many smaller islands are more ecologically sound than one large one because they cast smaller shadows on the water, minimizing the impact on sea life. Although the company is starting to build an island for 200 luxury residences and another for a floating golf course this year, it is working on plans to construct islands for more affordable housing next.

Be sure to check out Dutch Docklands International website to read more about this and other projects they've got on the go.

And if all this isn't enough for you, be sure to check out National Geographic's recent gallery, Floating Cities of the Future.

Images via Dutch Docklands International.