This Lily Pad Inspired Floating City is Planned for Penang

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BiodiverCity is a unique master-planned archipelago that fosters symbiotic coexistence between people and nature, while promising the world a new benchmark for sustainable urban development.

Words by Aaron Chapman

Penang, on the northwest coast of the Malaysian Peninsula is arterially connected by some of the longest oversea bridges in the southern hemisphere. It’s Penang’s connection to the sea, this peninsula-adjacent living that has led world-renowned architect Bjarke Ingels to devise BiodiverCity, a series of man-made islands and an archipelago inspired by lily pads.

“The design of these urban lily pads allows a symbiotic relationship between human, land and animal to form.”

Bjarke Ingels Group

Ingels and his firm, BIG were selected the winners of the Penang State Government’s international design competition, which sought to provide Penang’s residents with a new level of sustainable livability. Ingels sees the future as green. His practice is underpinned by progressive sustainability and architectural concepts — Ingels’ brand of environmental futurism — that inevitably do become real structures in our line of vision.

“A lot of the buildings will be pre-fabricated or 3D printed on site.”

Ingels’ BiodiverCity is no different. This ambitious ecosystem will consist of three main islands; The Channels, The Mangroves and The Laguna spread across 4,500 acres with approximately 4.6km of public beaches, 600 acres of green space and 25km of waterfront. The islands service residential, business and cultural hubs, each connected by networks of emission-free public transportation. Autonomous driverless vehicles will operate across land, water and air on and between the larger and smaller islands that form the archipelago. Other than their significant environmental benefit, the autonomous vehicles allow BiodiverCity a way of life enjoyed by way of foot or bicycle. Here, roads are for driving while the streets are for the people.

Bjarke Ingels Group

The overall carbon footprint of the construction industry is known to be damaging, and to reduce BiodiverCity’s environmental impact, a lot of the buildings will be pre-fabricated or 3D printed on site. Other techniques will utilise a range of Malaysian timbers and recycled construction materials such as aggregate. Ingels’ vision is currently under construction and will eventually be home to between 15,000 and 16,000 people in houses that can float, or are terraced or stilted.

Bjarke Ingels Group

“We are literally embarking on a journey to create more of Malaysia for future generations. We have decided to set the bar as high as humanly possible by imagining a new archipelago that aims to be both more culturally and biologically diverse than previous developments.” said Ingels. 

BiodiverCity is planned as a place of thriving coexistence between people and nature whereby the design of these urban lily pads allows a symbiotic relationship between human, land and animal to form. 

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Aaron Chapman

Aaron Chapman is an artist and writer based on the Gold Coast, Australia working across a range of mediums including photography, sculpture and public art. Chapman’s work is motivated by themes of home and memory, and in particular, childhood.

2022-10-24T23:32:45+00:00Categories: Conservation|Tags: , , |