Recent centuries have been marred by severe climate change and related problems. Unprecedented global warming has led to the melting of polar ice caps and the associated rise in sea levels. According to the estimates of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global sea level will likely rise another meter, by the turn of the century. If that were to happen, countries like Maldives would cease to exist. India-born Mayank Thammalla has come up with an innovative solution that could secure the future of Maldivian people and culture. Aptly titled “Swim or Sink”, the project proposes the use of semi-submersible oil rigs as the foundation for fostering human habitation.
Situated only 370 miles (approx. 600 km) from the south-west tip of India, the Republic of Maldives is an archipelago consisting of nearly 1,192 islands. Of these, only 192 islands are inhabited, by the nation’s population of approximately 330,000 people. Spread over the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean, the country is a lush paradise of prisitne beaches, flourishing tropical vegetation and rich marine ecosystem. However, being the world’s lowest country, with a mean ground elevation of merely 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) above sea level, Maldives would soon be swallowed whole by the sea, if climate changes continue at the current rate.
One of the chief phenomena contributing to the rise in sea level is global warming. The steady increase in the Earth’s temperature has resulted in the thermal expansion of oceanic bodies, as well as the melting of Antarctic ice sheets. NASA’s records show that global sea level has risen a startling 17 cms (i.e. 6.7 inches), over the last hundred years. Since 1993, the oceans across the world have been rising at around 3.5 mm (0.14 inch) per year. According to recent predictions, the planet’s water bodies will rise anywhere between 2.5 ft to around 6.5 ft (0.8 m to 2 m) by the year 2100. Such a catastrophe would quite possibly wipe out the entire population, thus annihilating the cultural and architectural history of the region.
To address this inevitable problem, Thammalla has come up with an innovative solution, which he calls the “Swim or Sink” project. The Auckland-based architect believes that modern technology could very well come to the rescue. Without dismissing the nation’s history and culture, the plan proposes the adaptive reuse of oil rigs, for the purpose of fostering human habitation. These repurposed structures would provide the base for the construction of a miniature city of sorts. The designer said:
In today’s world we tend to design or invent completely new from scratch, but I strongly believe we already have the available technology and resources to respond to many global issues. Adaptive re-use of already existing technologies is something as designers that we need to promote for the sustainable move forward. What inspired me was trying to figure out a way to keep the Maldives in-situ and relocate the population on to semi-submersible oil rigs. At the same time to promote their existing cultural and traditional processes on to their new oil rig lifestyle.
Thammalla’s designs feature a bustling metropolis, identical to the country’s capital Malé. Each platform city would house several living quarters, markets, shops and even mosques, similar to the ones currently crowding the city’s center.
To know more about the designer and his projects, visit his official website.