A unique series of man-made floating islands - called the 5 Lagoons Project – have begun to take shape in Maldives, which will be a series of almost 1,300 islands in the Indian Ocean.
The floating islands are part of a joint project that many hope will be the solution to the impending environmental crisis the islands could face over the next 50 years.
Thanks to climate change and the forecast of increasing sea levels, the Maldives - which are now only one and a half metres above sea level — could one day be totally submerged.
The project is a joint venture between the Maldivian government and Dutch Docklands, a Holland-based firm that specialises in building everything from floating prisons to floating conference and hotel complexes and homes.
The 5 Lagoons Project — 80 million square feet — will include: a private islands project with $10 million villas; a floating 18-hole golf course with an undersea tunnel; a conference complex and hotel; 185 $1-million waterfront homes connected along a flower-shaped quay as well as a separate floating island with homes for residents of the Maldivian capital.
Privately financed, the project is a joint venture between the Maldivian government and Dutch Docklands.
Paul Van de Camp, chief executive officer of Dutch Docklands, and his company worked for two years with the Maldivian government to come up with the plan.
Key to the deal was allowing foreign ownership of the high-end villas that would be constructed.
In exchange Van de Camp’s company would build a separate floating island with homes for the bulk of the country’s population.
All of this will be done with an eye to protect the islands’ natural resources and environment, said Van de Camp.
The floating islands will not hurt or touch the coral reefs and coral beds that surround the island nor the other marine life in the Indian Ocean that surrounds the Maldives.
“The Maldives are the biggest marine protected environment in the world,” said Van de Camp.
The government is very cautious about anything that could potentially harm the aquatic life, the environment and tourism.
The floating islands will be anchored to the seabed using cables or telescopic mooring piles.
They will be stable even in storms, the company says.
One of the reasons designers decided to build a number of small islands instead of a few big ones was to minimise any damage to the seabed and marine life.