safe island

Charlotte Middelveld

With landmass disappearing rapidly, it is vital to imagine new ways to maintain a high standard of living that allows for economic growth. The current government actively stimulates relocation of small island communities to so called ‘safe islands’; bigger islands where it’s more economically feasible to invest in coastal protection. At this point, fourteen island communities have relocated to these safe islands. However, the numbers show that there is an immediate threat of 80% of landmass becoming uninhabitable, leaving little space for 440 000 Maldivians.

This study aims to find an approach to the relocation of large communities, while maintaining the tradition of island living and protecting the surrounding ecosystem. My design imagines a ‘safe island network’, where an interlinked series of floating structures provide space for the population of an entire atoll. Within this framework there are separate structures dedicated to living, working and being, thus taking care of the basic human needs.

Stemming from the classic lay-out of a city, the central point of the safe island network is where all these human needs come together: the resource centre. Combining leisure, work and trade to shorten the chain of produce and reflect on the interaction of different processes. The process of catching fish and harvesting vegetables is combined with a market, where all this produce is traded. In this rapidly changing environment, it is of great importance to monitor, evaluate and study the different processes of the local economic systems, and make improvements where necessary. As such, the building also includes a knowledge centre that allows for environmental monitoring in laboratories and provides conference spaces.