A Floating Biotope off Manhattan

What will our cities look like in a post-COVID-19 era? 3deluxe was commissioned by New York-based organisation #WeThePlanet (WTP) to create an inspirational structure that nurtures and investigates new opportunities for people-friendly architecture in harmony with nature. Here, FC&A explores the German firm’s forward-thinking campus that projects a future where people and nature can live harmoniously alongside one another.


The WTP campus serves as a communicative platform to protect all life on land and under the sea while advancing the frontiers of design. The campus offers facilities for convening international summits, workshops and educational programmes that focus on transforming our world for a better future and will address topics such as human longevity and planetary flourishing, climate change, social justice and equal opportunities. The floating building complex is aimed at serving as an inspiring example for future life, communicative living and working environments.

What is the idea behind 50/50?

The 50/50 concept developed by 3deluxe foresees an architecture for the future that centres on shared spaces for both people and nature. The basic idea behind this architectural concept is that in the future, all building projects should give back just as much substance to nature as they take from it. This would mean that as compensation for soil sealing, CO2 production and the use of energy and materials, new living environments would be created for flora and fauna (neophytes). Used consistently, this would completely change our requirements for the cityscape of the future. Innovative architectural structures could come into being, of the kind that has 50% nature-oriented biotopes integrated into them. The quality of life in the cities would be significantly improved in every respect with better air quality, a more pleasant inner-city climate which would heat up less and the fact that it would quickly be possible to enjoy the experience of something unfamiliar in such environments – nature.

Architecture needs attitude

The WTP campus represents a new generation of corporate buildings. It offers not only the functional, structural shell of a building but, beyond that, it conveys an attitude, it takes up a stance on relevant social questions such as climate protection, nature conservation, joint responsibility, openness and transparency.

Flood-resilient architecture

The campus’ floating platform is a piece of real estate that is future-oriented, mobile and unaffected by rising sea levels. By creating a floating natural biotope, the WTP platform extends the tightly packed land area that is Manhattan by an extra piece of greenery. This partly public platform represents not only an additional destination for New Yorkers for sports, leisure and communication but also an attractive new honeypot for western Manhattan. An option exists to extend the principle of the floating green platform and to install other floating parks and green running courses along the shoreline.

The beauty in nature and technology

The most salient aspect of this building idea is that of the floating marshland biotopes, making up 50% of the overall surface areas. However, it is not only here that living space will be created for flora and fauna, the meadow, the sand biotope, as the thatched and green roofs also produce living environments for a diversified, urban animal and plant world. The building materials can be divided up into natural materials such as wood, clay or reeds and recycled materials such as bioplastics. The latest surface technologies for air cleansing will also be used, along with algae-bioreactors, wind farms, photovoltaics and marine power plants under the platform for energy extraction.

The vision of the campus is to be completely self-sufficient in generating energy and drinking water. The sustainability measures are integrated into a fluid, organic design concept that cooperates with the forces of nature (wind, sun and water), thus making for a genuine, elegant naturalness.

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