12 Fantastic Floating Cities and Artificial Islands


When you imagine an island nation or floating city, you probably conjure up images of a peaceful, breathtakingly beautiful paradise where locals lounge around in hammocks, frozen cocktails in hand. But real-life artificial islands and floating communities are far more interesting than that, from rickety abandoned oil industry communities in the middle of the ocean to a fort-turned-floating-hotel fit for a Bond villain. Of course, there’s luxury too, like multi-million dollar oceanic condos that double as tax havens. Here are 12 of the world’s most amazing man-made island dwellings.

Boat City of Aberdeen Harbor, Hong Kong



(images via: Karsten Petersen)

Centuries ago, the boat city of Aberdeen Harbor was a haven for pirates, and the floating city itself hasn’t changed much since then despite the ultra-modern skyscrapers that have sprung up around it. Aberdeen’s “boat people” live here to escape the constraints of modern society, although many in mainland Hong Kong consider the boat city to be an eyesore. Three jumbo floating restaurants in the harbor are a favorite with tourists to the area, who look on the boat people as quaint and interesting.

Deserted Floating City of Oily Rocks


(images via: WebUrbanist)

One of the strangest cities in the world sits just off the coast of Azerbaijan, abandoned and dilapidated. ‘Oily Rocks’ began with a single path out over the water and grew into a system of paths and platforms built on the back of ships sunken to serve as the city’s foundation. It was all created to serve the oil industry, and before long, it contained housing, schools, libraries and shops for the workers and their families. Now, only part of it remains as many of the paths have disappeared into the surf.

No Man’s Land Fort


(images via: The Daily Mail)

The Daily Mail called it a “man-made island fit for a Bond villain”, and it’s easy to see why. No Man’s Land Fort, located off the coast of Britain, has a forbidding exterior with its towering armor-plated granite and steel walls. The Victorian-era sea fort was originally built to fend off attacks by the French navy, but is now a luxury hotel with 21 rooms, two helipads and a heated indoor swimming pool. It was put up for sale in 2007 but the company collapsed, leading to some drama with its former owner Harmesh Pooni barricading himself inside in 2008. It still has not been sold.

Sealand, Bizarre Island Micronation


(images via: WebUrbanist)

In the 1960s, an Englishman named Roy Bates took possession of HM Fort Roughs, an anti-aircraft platform off the coast of Britain, and declared it the ‘Principality of Sealand’. In 1978, the micronation was forcibly taken over by a citizen of Sealand, along with outside assistance, but Bates retook his ‘kingdom’ with his own armed forces and held the would-be overthrowers as prisoners of war until negotiations with foreign nations secured their release. Sealand’s legal status is questionable and no U.N. member recognizes it as a sovereign nation, but Bates and the rest of the Sealanders are generally left alone.

Thilafushi Garbage Island


(image via: Blue Peace Maldives)

From a distance, it looks like an island paradise in the middle of a stunning azure sea. But, get closer and you’ll soon see that this man-made island located a few miles from Male in the Pacific Ocean is actually a dump – literally. Thilafushi was created to solve the problem of ever-growing mountains of trash in the Maldives and now contains thousands of tons of solid waste rife with toxic chemicals including mercury, cadmium, lead and asbestos.

Dubai’s Many Manmade Islands



(images via: Dark Roasted Blend)

Dubai has an ever-growing collection of unusual man made islands including the Palm Islands and the World Islands. The Palm Islands are the largest artificial islands in the world, built by Dutch engineers to cater to extremely wealthy buyers from around the world. Even more exclusive are the World Islands, which are still in progress – they’re laid out to create a map of the world and each of the 300 islands has a price tag of $20-$30 million.  A number of celebrities are said to have purchased land here, including Rod Stewart, David Beckham and Tommy Lee.

‘The World’ Floating Luxury Community


(images via: Aboard the World)

If the real world just isn’t living up to your expectations, you can always escape to your own little world in the middle of the ocean. If you’re filthy rich, that is. ‘The World’ is a floating luxury community managed by Residensea that’s completely independent of any location. If you want to rent an apartment on this exclusive “cruise ship on steriods”, expect to pay between $2,000 and $5,000 a night. Owning your own condo on board will set you back between $2.5 to $7.5 million. Residents and guests enjoy swimming pools, tennis courts, a library, a health spa, a fitness center and even golf greens.

Floating Island Built on Recycled Water Bottles


(images via: Ecoble)

If you want to live a carefree seaside life like the uber-wealthy of ‘The World’, but don’t have a lot of cash, look to Spiral Island for inspiration. This artificial island in Mexico was constructed on a base of 250,000 plastic bottles that allow the island to drift and relocate as needed. Unfortunately, the island was destroyed by a hurricane in 2005, but owner Richard Sowa is completing construction of Spiral Island II. The original island was home to a two-story house, a solar oven, a self-composting toilet and three beaches.

Kawasaki Artificial Island


(images via: Penta Ocean Construction)

Tokyo Bay is home to a number of man-made islands including the mysterious Kawasaki Island, which is home to a large tower. But what looks like it could be a skyscraper from afar is actually just a ventilation shaft for the Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line, which runs from Kisarazu City to Kawasaki City. Sometimes called the Tower of Wind, this man-made island took 30 years to be completed.

Floating Island of Immortals


(images via: lvb.net)

In photos, it almost doesn’t look real: a sparkling flame-shaped mountain of steel in the middle of the ocean, which stands at sharp contrast to its organic surroundings. But the dramatically named ‘Floating Island of Immortals’ is actually a sculpture by Chinese artist Zhan Wang and an integral part of the Beaufort Art Trail, a collection of international art spread out over 67 kilometers along the Belgian coast. On the island, statues of a fisherman and an elf, a cell phone and a computer represent icons of the past, present and future.

Lilypad Floating Cities for Climate Change Refugees



(images via: Vincent Callabaut)

So far it’s just theoretical, but the Lilypad floating city concept is one of the most well developed ideas for a functioning sea community yet to be created. Envisioned as a floating ‘ecopolis’ for climate change refugees, Vincent Callebaut’s design resembles a water lily and would not only be able to produce its own energy through solar, wind, tidal and biomass technology but would also process CO2 in the atmosphere and absorb it into its titanium dioxide skin. Each of these floating cities could hold as many as 50,000 people.

Autopia Ampere


(images via: Popular Mechanics)

Another notable ocean ecopolis concept comes from Wolf Hilbertz, a German architect who plants to use the process of electrodisposition to create a city that would essentially build itself. Autopia Ampere would begin as a series of wire mesh armatures connected to a supply of low-voltage direct current produced by solar panels. The electrochemical reactions would draw up sea minerals over time, creating walls of calcium carbonate on the armatures. Hilbertz has proven that the theory is applicable in practice by growing a coating of limestone on wooden piles wrapped in chicken wire on the coasts of Texas, Louisiana and California.