It’s common knowledge that the planet is warming, ice caps are melting, and water levels are rising. The international scientific community predicts that a temperature elevation of 1°C will lead to a water rise of 1 meter, resulting in massive land loss and the displacement of millions of people world wide. Vincent Callebaut, a visionary Belgian architect, is responding to this inevitability with his proposal LILYPAD, A Floating Ecopolis for Ecological Refugees.
LILYPAD is touted by Callebaut as a prototypical auto-sufficient amphibious city… a tenable solution to the rising water levels. In addition to providing housing for those displaced by the transforming land/water relationships, LILYPAD also produces sustainable energy for developed regions.
LILYPAD is a true amphibian – half aquatic and half terrestrial city – able to accommodate 50,000 inhabitants and inviting the biodiversity to develop its fauna and flora around a central lagoon of soft water collecting and purifying the rain waters. This artificial lagoon is entirely immersed, ballasting the city. It enables inhabitants to live in the heart of the sub aquatic depths. The multi functional program is based on three marinas and three mountains dedicated to work, shopping and entertainment. The whole set is covered by a stratum of planted housing in suspended gardens and crossed by a network of streets and alleyways with organic outline. The goal is to create a harmonious coexistence of humans and nature, exploring new modes of cross-cultural aquatic living.
The floating structure of the Ecopolis is directly inspired of the highly ribbed leave of the great lilypad of Amazonia Victoria Regia. The double skin is made of polyester fibers covered by a layer of titanium dioxide (TiO2) like an anatase which by reacting to the ultraviolet rays enable to absorb the atmospheric pollution by photocatalytic effect.
LILYPAD reaches a positive energetic balance with zero carbon emission by the integration of all the renewable energies (solar, thermal and photovoltaic energies, wind energy, hydraulic, tidal power station, osmotic energies, phytopurification, biomass), producing more energy than it consumes.
To adapt to the changing ocean flows resulting from the hydro climatic factors, LILYPAD makes direct reference to Jules Verne’s literature, the alternative possibility of a multicultural floating Ecopolis whose metabolism would be in perfect symbiosis with the cycles of nature.
In 2000, Vincent Callebaut, 23 years old, graduated with the Great Architecture Prize René Serrure awarding the best diploma project at the Institute Victor Horta in Brussels for its Parisian projectMetamuseum of Arts and Civilisations Quay Branly.
Then, thanks to the bursary Leonardo da Vinci attributed by the European Community, he decided to live in Paris to extend its critical thinking and its spatial inventiveness during two years of internship in agencies that fascinate him (Odile Decq Benoit Cornette Architectes Urbanistes, Massimiliano Fuksas).
In 2001, he competed in box and won the Grand Architecture Prize Napoléon Godecharle of the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts of Brussels awarding the best hope of the Belgian architecture with its ecological project Elasticity, an aquatic city of 50 000 inhabitants entirely autonomous. The jury appreciated at the same time his dynamism, his expression force and the coherence of his concept, and recognised a personality endowed with a remarkable aptitude giving well-founded expectations of great success and able thus to contribute to the fact that reputation of Belgium becomes a truth.
In 2005, he was the finalist of the RE-New Architecture Pleasures awarding the 12 best figures of the Architecture in the French Community of Belgium. During the same year, the Edition Company Damdi of Seoul dedicated him at the age of 28 its first architecture monograph detailing the story of its awarded and exhibited projects during worldwide spontaneous proposals and international competitions.
Since then, in the framework of his agency and great collaborations (Jakob+MacFarlane, Claude Vasconi, Jacques Rougerie), he militates continuously for the long lasting development of the new Ecopolis via parasitical strategies for an investigation architecture mixing biology to information and communication technologies
From New York to Hong Kong crossing Brussels and Paris, Vincent Callebaut proposes with determination and conviction prospective and ecological projects by insufflating locally dialogs and meetings that try to raise our questionings on the society in which we live as citizen of a global world!