Floating into the Future


OCEANIX Busan is the world’s first prototype of a resilient and sustainable floating community, paving the way for future innovations to help coastal cities threatened by rising sea levels. The floating city is envisaged as a flood-proof infrastructure that rises with the sea and produces its own food, energy, and water with fully integrated zero-waste, closed-loop systems. Cutting edge on numerous fronts, this large-scale project signals the arrival of a new era of seascapes.   


Located in the calm waters of Busan’s North Port, OCEANIX’s floating city will be an adaptable, scalable, and inclusive solution for living on the ocean. The build will serve as an organic extension of South Korea’s local urban fabric, where leading artists will help shape the public space defined by its market culture, art village, and celebratory events. The goal is to view public spaces not simply as the ‘gaps between buildings,’ but as places that form a productive bridge bringing people together. Therefore, OCEANIX Busan’s strength lies not only in its new model for sustainable communities, but also in its ability to build trust between the land and water communities. The development is site-specific and will consider the social, political, environmental, and economic environment of South Korea. This will be informed by Busan’s unique juxtaposition of old and new — a port-city rich in culture, art, and trade. 

Sustainable systems 

Each neighbourhood is embedded with six integrated systems that generate energy, treat and replenish water, reduce and recycle resources, and provide innovative urban agriculture to facilitate a local plant-based diet. Pedestrian-friendly paths accommodate autonomous vehicles, replacing all fuel-based cars with electric and shared mobility, reducing carbon emissions, and promoting a healthy lifestyle. The platforms also provide regenerative living surfaces, creating habitats that filter and clean polluted port water. Each platform has three performative petals (edges) that provide access to the water, regenerate the habitat, and offer seating and gathering spaces facing the waterfront. 

OCEANIX Busan will organically transform and adapt over time. Starting with a community of three platforms with 12,000 residents and visitors, it has the potential to expand to more than 100,000 residents. The floating platforms are accompanied by dozens of productive outposts with photovoltaic panels and greenhouses that can expand and contract over time based on the needs of Busan. 

Platforms and programmes 

The three floating platforms (totalling 6.3 hectares) are connected to the port with link-span bridges that frame a sheltered blue lagoon of floating art, recreation, and performance outposts. Each neighbourhood accommodates 30,000 to 40,000 square metres of mixed-use programmes distributed into living, research, and lodging platforms. The living platform provides diverse and accessible housing options plus intimate alleys full of local food vendors, crafts, and bookshops. The research platform is a co-working and maritime research hub. It will provide job opportunities driven by innovating climate change solutions, including a habitat regeneration centre, maker spaces, and dorms. Lastly, the eco-lodging platform provides harbour-view guest rooms, organic dining, and skylight greenhouse amenities, creating a unique destination for visitors and residents alike.  


Low-rise buildings are distributed across each platform, and to balance the weight evenly, a five-level datum creates a low centre of gravity that can resist wind. The buildings are defined by their soft lines and special terraces for indoor-outdoor living, helping to create a network of vibrant public spaces. Both floating and rooftop photovoltaic panels are used to harvest energy for the neighbourhood.  Additionally, large winter gardens provide temperature-controlled environments to grow food and provide respite from Busan’s cold winter months. Alternatively, screening and salt-tolerant vegetation provide shade and lower cooling costs in the hotter summer months. Locally-sourced materials like wood – a 100% renewable material that is both strong and light – create lightweight buildings that will age with character and maritime appeal. Lastly, the buildings’ form will be tuned to maximize solar capture and to create comfortable indoor-outdoor spaces. 

Design principles 

As the world’s first resilient floating community, the design principles behind OCEANIX will determine the future of floating infrastructure to help coastal cities adapt to climate change. The design is anchored in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and seeks to channel the flow of energy, water, food, and waste to create a blueprint for a modular maritime metropolis. The developers have been looking to both nature and humans for inspiration. For example, the hexagons central to the design of the platforms are informed by the ability of bees to use space effectively despite limited resources, while global sustainability initiatives and existing communities living and thriving on the ocean are providing endless information to engineers to reconfigure the city’s evolving needs.  


OCEANIX is trailblazing a resilient and self-sustaining industry to meet humanity’s shelter, energy, waste, water, and food needs, all while regenerating marine ecosystems. Some of their sustainable building principles include: 

  • Net-zero Energy 

Affordable, abundant, and clean renewable energy from solar, wind, sea, and waves.  

  • Freshwater autonomy 

Freshwater supply via the latest water-harvesting, filtering, recycling, and distillation systems. 

  • Zero waste systems 

Closed-loop processing will reduce the material footprint, turning waste into energy, agricultural feedstock, and recycled materials.  

  • Habitat regeneration 

Biorock is a unique ocean technology that produces the only marine construction material that grows, heals itself, and becomes stronger with age. 

  • Plant-based food 

A steady supply of organic produce from high yield, decentralized, soilless, and permaculture systems.  

  • Shared mobility 

Shared and multimodal mobility and active modes for an integrated, mixed, and productive community with reduced transportation demand. 

OCEANIX BUSAN 06 Peoples Alley Night 1

All images courtesy of OCEANIX and BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group 




Leading architects:  

BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group and  

SAMOO (Samsung) Architects and Engineers 

Research, design, and engineering partners:  

UN-Habitat, Prime Movers Lab, Arup,  

Bouygues Construction, Helena,  

the MIT Center for Ocean Engineering,  

the Korea Maritime and Ocean University,  

environmental artist Olafur Eliasson, 

Studio Other Spaces, Wartsila, Transsolar  

KlimaEngineering, Mobility in Chain,  

Sherwood Design Engineers, Agritecture,  

the Center for Zero Waste Design, Greenwave,  

and the Global Coral Reef Alliance. 

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