Future

Ocean Micronations, The Libertarian Floating Utopia

The U.S.-based Seasteading Institute is pursuing the notion of "startup governments" and the opportunity for like-minded people to live in shared offshore communities. Could man-made island colonies be our future?

Vincent Callebaut's
Julien Damon

In the early 16th century, humanist Thomas More envisioned Utopia as a fictional island whose organization principles could inspire the world. Now, at a time when all the world's natural islands have been discovered, some U.S. libertarians aspire to create new ones so they can better organize the world.

For the island of Utopia, More contemplated a system of perfect equality where private property was banned. On the islands dreamed by these U.S. entrepreneurs, who are keen on absolute liberalism and high tech, one principle rules: freedom for the shareholder citizens.

With the financial backing of billionaire Peter Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and was an early Facebook investor, the Seasteading Institute was created by former Google engineer Patri Friedman, who also happens to be the grandson of late economist Milton Friedman, a Nobel Prize laureate. Relying both on scientific progress and grey areas concerning the status of residents in international waters, Friedman and his institute are trying to install new artificial islands in the sea to test innovative forms of government.

On social networks and in the press, the project is invariably presented with amazing imagery â€" the sort that every architect knows how to produce â€" of beautiful skies and green archipelagos of residential platforms.

A team of designers and graphic designers, together with engineers, biologists, and legal and financial advisers, have thoughtfully modeled and calculated everything. In July, the institute announced that with $167 million in investments, it would be possible to accommodate 300 people on a reinforced concrete platform of 3,000 square meters by the year 2020.

Source: Seasteading Facebook page

This first module would later be joined by others, offering a whole range of services and equipments, from swimming pools, hotels and gardens to office buildings, heliports and docks. The different units would be assembled as an independent city, where developers say the rent shouldn't be higher than in New York or London. By 2050, the Institute hopes that tens of millions of inhabitants will live in these aquatic and idyllic metropolitan configurations.

But there's surely still a long way to go from the announcement to the project's realization, especially given that while a lot is being said about the subject, nothing concrete has been built yet.

Still, constructing these islands represents a lot more than just a technical feat. It's a true realization of the anarcho-capitalism ideal: cities, or micronations, freed from all taxation, democratic elections, law and visas, all competing with one another, resulting in the emergence of the most efficient models of government. The Seastanding Institute's project is based on one big idea: being able to choose your government the same way you choose your cellphone, paving the way for "startup governments."

Critics may laugh at the technological challenge, but this isn't even the most difficult part. Today’s giant ships and offshore installations prove that we can conquer the sea. And those who see it as just a slightly crazy fantasy for nutty millionaires are missing the point. Indeed, the creation of such islands, which at this point may or may not materialize, is not just about wanting to make money or to runaway from the world.

Their ambition lies in what the institute calls the "eight great moral imperatives," namely to feed the hungry, enrich the poor, cure the sick, live in balance with nature, power civilization sustainably, clean the atmosphere, restore the oceans and stop fighting. No less.

Support Worldcrunch
We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!

La Sagrada Familia Delayed Again — Blame COVID-19 This Time

Hopes were dashed by local officials to see the completion of the iconic Barcelona church in 2026, in time for the 100th anniversary of the death of its renowned architect Antoni Guadí.

Work on La Sagrada Familia has been delayed because of the pandemic

By most accounts, it's currently the longest-running construction project in the world. And now, the completion of work on the iconic Barcelona church La Sagrada Familia, which began all the way back in 1882, is going to take even longer.

Barcelona-based daily El Periodico daily reports that work on the church, which began as the vision of master architect Antoni Gaudí, was slated to be completed in 2026. But a press conference Tuesday, Sep. 21 confirmed that the deadline won't be met, in part because of delays related to COVID-19. Officials also provided new details about the impending completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin).

El Periódico - 09/22/2021

El Periodico daily reports on the latest delay from what may be the longest-running construction project in the world.

One tower after the other… Slowly but surely, La Sagrada Familia has been growing bigger and higher before Barcelonians and visitors' eager eyes for nearly 140 years. However, all will have to be a bit more patient before they see the famous architectural project finally completed. During Tuesday's press conference, general director of the Construction Board of the Sagrada Familia, Xavier Martínez, and the architect director, Jordi Faulí, had some good and bad news to share.

As feared, La Sagrada Familia's completion date has been delayed. Because of the pandemic, the halt put on the works in early March when Spain went into a national lockdown. So the hopes are dashed of the 2026 inauguration in what would have been the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.

Although he excluded new predictions of completion until post-COVID normalcy is restored - no earlier than 2024 -, Martínez says: "Finishing in 2030, rather than being a realistic forecast, would be an illusion, starting the construction process will not be easy," reports La Vanguardia.

But what's a few more years when you already have waited 139, after all? However delayed, the construction will reach another milestone very soon with the completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin), the first tower of the temple to be completed in 44 years and the second tallest spire of the complex. It will be crowned by a 12-pointed star which will be illuminated on December 8, Immaculate Conception Day.

Next would be the completion of the Evangelist Lucas tower and eventually, the tower of Jesus Christ, the most prominent of the Sagrada Familia, reaching 172.5 meters thanks to an illuminated 13.5 meters wide "great cross." It will be made of glass and porcelain stoneware to reflect daylight and will be illuminated at night and project rays of light.

La Sagrada Familia through the years

La Sagrada Familia, 1889 - wikipedia

Support Worldcrunch
We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS
MOST READ