A floating plastic island in the San Francisco Bay may offer a new way to protect coasts from floods. It could even house people inside.

Float Lab

A floating plastic island in the San Francisco Bay could offer key insights in the fight against sea-level rise.
The island provides a habitat for marine animals. As more creatures attach to the island, the structure could help calm ocean waves, thereby protecting coasts from flooding.
The technology could eventually be used to build floating cities, but that reality is a long way off.

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A tiny fiberglass island is bobbing up and down in the San Francisco Bay right now.

From far away, it looks like a beluga whale poking through the water. Up close, it looks like a misshapen raft. In reality, it’s a buoyant structure known as the “Float Lab,” which is designed to foster a floating ecosystem.

The prototype was deployed in August by a team of designers at the California College of the Arts (CCA)’s Architectural Ecologies Lab. Their goal is to see if animals will attach to the island, thus expanding its size and creating a buffer against ocean currents. An entire network of islands, they predict, could help calm the bay’s choppy waters and prevent future floods from ravaging the coast.

If the structure holds up, it could even provide a model for floating cities — a design concept that’s supported by the United Nations as a way to address rising sea levels.

Take a look at how prototype is faring in the water.

SEE ALSO: Venice, the Great Barrier Reef, and other World Heritage Sites are threatened by rising seas, massive storms, and extreme heat. Take a look at the damage.

The island launched in the San Francisco Bay in August. It’s roughly the size of car and made of fiberglass, a type of reinforced plastic.

The designers — Adam Marcus, the director of the Architectural Ecologies Lab, and two colleagues, Evan Jones and Margaret Ikeda — tested around two dozen prototypes before launching the final version.

From 2014 to 2018, they installed fiberglass plates underwater in both the Monterey and San Francisco Bays. The plates were around 24 inches long and 24 inches wide.

“They started to perform very well as upside down habitats for animals,” Marcus told Business Insider.

Fiberglass doesn’t corrode or rot, so it should be capable of withstanding the harsh marine environment.

A Bay Area fabrication company named Kreysler & Associates helped build the structure, using robots to carve the mold. Workers then covered the surface with fiberglass by hand. …read more

Source:: Business Insider

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