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A Gorgeous Vision of the Future, Made of Ocean Garbage

Renderings of a beautiful fantasyland are a powerful call to arms concerning ocean pollution.

A Gorgeous Vision of the Future, Made of Ocean Garbage

Image via Vincent Callebaut

It’s 2050, and teen aquanaut Océane is writing to you from Rio de Janeiro. Well, not Rio, exactly, but from a cluster of beautiful islands off the coast of the Brazilian city—islands built of algae and garbage.


Ok, so it’s not quite real, but the project by Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut, introduced through a letter by the theoretical Océane, is an excellent reminder of the boundless possibilities that exist in the world’s oceans—and how humanity is destroying those opportunities with tons and tons of garbage. In Callebaut’s imaginary settlement, called Aequorea, the architect imagines a future where the world has cleaned up its act on pollution.

Aequorea, with Rio de Janeiro in the background. Image via Vincent Callebaut

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), each square mile of the globe’s oceans contains 46,000 floating pieces of plastic. Eighty percent of that trash is from the land, and also includes agricultural runoff and untreated sewage. Runoff in particular has contributed to the creation of about 95,000 square miles of “dead zones,” areas where marine life cannot survive because their ecosystems have been so thoroughly blighted.

Image via Vincent Callebaut

In the futuristic Aequorea, however, humans have solved that problem. Callebaut’s fantasy villages are created by 3D prints of “algoplast, a composite material they invented that mixes algae with garbage,” he writes. They’re each home to 20,000 aquanauts, who might otherwise be climate change refugees. These villages are pretty nifty: “Modular living, coworking spaces, fab labs, recycling plants, science labs, educational hotels, sports fields, aquaponic farms, and phyto-purification lagoons stack up layer by layer,” Callebaut writes in his description, all in the voice of aquateen Océane.

Image via Vincent Callebaut

“Never forget this: oceans produce 50 percent of our planet’s oxygen,” Callebaut (and Océane) conclude. “They are its most active lung! It was really worth cleaning them, and fighting their acidification, thus re-enchanting our living together—don't you think?”

Image via Vincent Callebaut

Image via Vincent Callebaut

(Via Dezeen)

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