Thousands of Amazon employees ask the company to adopt a climate change plan

In an open letter to Amazon’s board of directors and CEO Jeff Bezos, thousands of employees have asked the company to adopt a wide-ranging plan to fight climate change.


“Amazon has the resources and scale to spark the world’s imagination and redefine what is possible and necessary to address the climate crisis,” the letter reads. “We believe this is a historic opportunity for Amazon to stand with employees and signal to the world that we’re ready to be a climate leader.”


The letter, which had received more than 3,500 signatures by midday Wednesday, is the latest example of tech industry employees going public to pressure leadership into action. Workers at companies like Google and Microsoft have organized around a range of issues. Amazon itself has faced previous pushback from employees as well: last year, a group of workers criticized the company’s decision to sell facial recognition tools to law enforcement.

Employees, citing Amazon’s work for oil and gas companies and what they describe as insufficient plans for action on climate change, are asking the company to commit to several goals. Among them, they ask the company to make “a complete transition away from fossil fuels,” and to advocate politically for climate-friendly policies. They also ask the company to adopt a shareholder resolution calling for a climate change plan.

In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson highlighted company initiatives, like work to reduce the carbon footprint of shipments, and described Amazon’s commitment to environmental issues as “unwavering.”

“Amazon’s sustainability team is using a science-based approach to develop data and strategies to ensure a rigorous approach to our sustainability work,” the spokesperson said. “We have launched several major and impactful programs and are working hard to integrate this approach fully across Amazon.”

“In our mission to become ‘Earth’s most customer-centric company,’ we believe our climate impact must be a top consideration in everything we do,” the employees’ letter reads. “We have the power to shift entire industries, inspire global action on climate, and lead on the issue of our lifetimes.”


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IKEA achieve a BREEAM sustainability rating

IKEA Greenwich has achieved an ‘Outstanding’ BREEAM UK New Construction certification, a sustainability rating and accolade held by just 320 buildings around the world


The sustainable store is the first in the UK and only the second retail unit in the world to receive the sustainability rating with over 90%. IKEA Greenwich was designed and built to reach the highest BREEAM rating possible and by reaching ‘Outstanding’, it has achieved the highest rating of any IKEA store in the world.

IKEA Greenwich incorporates a range of sustainable technologies such as solar power, LED lighting, rainwater harvesting and renewable construction materials while maximising the use of renewable electricity with a super-efficient solar array and a geothermal system supporting the heating and cooling.

There’s also lots of natural light throughout the store, reducing dependence on artificial lighting. The store features three landscaped gardens including a roof garden with a sedum roof to support insect life and raised beds, all accessible to customers and the community. The store is also highly accessible via public transport, with 46 bus services per hour directly serving the site.

IKEA Greenwich is the 22nd full-sized IKEA store to open in the UK. In addition to the rooftop garden and pavilion, the store features a new Learning Lab – a dedicated space for customers, partners and the local community to explore prolonging the life of products, upcycling and reducing waste.

Hege Sæbjørnsen, country sustainability manager at IKEA UK & Ireland adds: Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do and through our combined efforts across the business and in partnership with others, we have been able to achieve an ‘Outstanding’ BREEAM UK New Construction rating.

“This is a prolific milestone in our journey to becoming a more sustainable and circular business, and also how we hope to inspire change beyond our own business.

“The many new sustainable technologies and initiatives allow us to meet the needs of our customers, whilst staying within the limits of one planet.”

Shamir Ghumra, director of BREEAM at BRE said: “We are delighted that IKEA Greenwich has achieved the highest BREEAM UK New Construction Outstanding rating by a retail unit to date. BREEAM is the world’s leading building design certification and our aim is to drive excellence in sustainable building practices.

“IKEA’s 90.44% score reflects this. Its testament to the company’s ongoing commitment to sustainability practices of the highest standard, for the benefit of all.”

BREEAM rated developments are more sustainable environments that enhance the wellbeing of the people who live and work in them, help protect natural resources and make for more attractive property investments.

BREEAM measures buildings against a range of variables, including indoor air quality, water usage, and innovation initiatives amongst others.


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Live above your station

300,000 homes could be built above London railway tracks — for the fastest commutes in town

One priority for new-home buyers is to find an area with good low-cost transport options. But just how close to a Tube or railway station do you want to live?

In Chongqing, in southwestern China, a new metro line runs right through the middle of a residential tower — but in London there are also opportunities to get cosy with rail connections.

“Over-rail development can make a huge contribution to solving London’s housing shortage when land is limited within the capital, and construction technologies enable us to improve facilities,” says Brandon Buck, director at architects Perkins+Will.

How do you solve a problem like Clapham Junction?

The fourth busiest railway station in the UK, Clapham Junction is overwhelmed by the burgeoning population of Battersea and Wandsworth and expansion of the commuter belt.

This vital transport hub runs workers into London from Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire, and even connects to Milton Keynes.

But the swell of new households moving into the area thanks to the regeneration of Battersea Power Station and Nine Elms, and The Ram Quarter development in Wandsworth Town, is set to lead to a 40 per cent rise in the number of journeys through and to the station.

The damning results of a recent customer service survey confirmed that Clapham Junction is too congested, with poor shopping and only one step-free entrance.


New proposal: Clapham Junction should be overhauled and transformed into a community-based station with shops and 5,000 to 7,000 new homes built above the platforms, track and sidings


A new proposal, seen by Homes & Property and put together by architects Hawkins\Brown, engineering firm Mott MacDonald and construction group Laing O’Rourke, maps out a dramatic overhaul of the station and surrounding Network Rail site.

This would involve creating a community-based station, rather like the successful King’s Cross project, that could be enjoyed by local people and not act solely as a transit point for commuters.

The team proposes adding more platforms, straightening the tracks to make them more efficient, creating a new space for shops above and below ground, studios for creative businesses and co-working offices.

The speculative plan would also include 5,000 to 7,000 new homes to be built above the platforms, track and sidings.



Victoria Coach Station could move out to free up £150m slice of land

While no formal process has been put in place the consortium is in early talks with Wandsworth borough council and Network Rail.

Schemes putting homes above train lines are still in their infancy but Hawkins\Brown Architects has designed two blocks to sit above the western ticket hall at Tottenham Court Road Tube station, with 92 homes across both buildings.

Hudson Yard, a high rise development over 64 acres of live tracks in Manhattan, has helped inspire plans by the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation which is deciding how to transform Willesden Junction, while talks are also under way regarding an ambitious plan to build above Victoria station.

The need to improve rail services, especially with the potential arrival of Crossrail 2, provides an opportunity to create a new town centre with Clapham Junction station at the heart of it, and to build much-needed new homes that would be constructed off-site in a factory, explains Mott MacDonald engineer Ian Watkins.

“Clapham Junction is a scar on the landscape and it separates different areas around the station,” he says.

Potential for 300,000 new London homes over railway tracks

A recent report from engineers WSP shows that nearly 300,000 homes could be built in London above railway tracks.

Mott MacDonald’s Watkins says: “There are challenges, of course. The building of homes must not interfere with signalling or site lines. There’s the issue of getting natural light into the railway station if you are building on top and around it.

"Clever acoustic design must be used to counter noise and vibrations for residents. If there is a fire, homes must be protected. The whole site must feel integrated but operate separately.”

North London new homes above railway tunnels

The Pavilions in Caledonian Road has 96 new rental homes within a nature conservation area encompassing a disused railway embankment on the edge of the King’s Cross masterplan.

Just 16ft below the surface, railway tunnels run into St Pancras.

From £1,685 a month: private rental flats from L&Q housing association at The Pavilions in Caledonian Road, N1

The seven buildings, clad in brick and glazed ceramic tiles, are landscaped with climbing plants, green walls and green roofs.

Built by Telford Homes and designed by architects Jestico+Whiles, the scheme has been bought by L&Q housing association.

A one-bedroom flat rents for £1,685 a month. It’s 0.07 miles from Caledonian Road & Barnsbury Overground station.

In towers above Archway Tube station there are 118 rental homes. Vantage Point by Essential Living has an on-site 24-hour residents’ team and 7,000sq ft of social space, including a private dining room for rent, a games room and a gym.


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Plans submitted for ambitious MSG Sphere schemes

The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG)

has submitted plans for the ambitious sphere-shaped entertainment and music venue in Stratford, London


MSG’s sphere-shaped music venue proposal, designed by Populous, has gained traction, and the MSG behind the project has now filed planning documents.

MSG Sphere would be a “next-generation” music venue that MSG claims would revolutionise the entertainment experience.

MSG aims to build the 90-metre tall project on a 4.7-acre former coach park near the Olympic Park.

It’s predicted that the 120-metre long building will take three-years to construct and will have a capacity of 21,500 people.

The MSG sphere will sit on a four-storey base filling the whole site and its exterior will be clad with triangular LED panels displaying moving images.

In addition to the main venue, plans for the MSG Sphere include:

Publicly-accessible outdoor spaces – including a nature play space for children, seating areas, and an outdoor gym

A range of indoor dining and entertainment options – a smaller music club/nightclub, retail space, a café, and restaurants.

MSG sphere, music venue, plans,

In comments to Sky News, Jayne McGivern, MSG’s executive vice president of Development and Construction, said: “This is an opportunity to take an inaccessible coach park and use it to support thousands of jobs, and billions of pounds of economic benefit.

“Our plans make training and local hiring a priority and would create a premier destination that serves as a long-term investment in the future of Newham, London, and the UK.

“If our plans are approved, we believe MSG Sphere will complement London’s existing venues and drive overall growth in the music and entertainment market – benefiting residents, artists and fans.”


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Morgan Sindall chalks up £24m Bournemouth uni job

Contractor secured job via the Southern Construction Framework

Morgan Sindall has been chosen to build a new development for Arts University Bournemouth (AUB).

The project is part of the redevelopment of its main campus and will see Morgan Sindall build a new 300-bed student accommodation scheme.

Morgan Sindall has already completed several schemes for AUB including its drawing studio, student services building, photography building, and other student accommodation projects.

The current project, which was secured via the Southern Construction Framework, will feature clusters of eight bedrooms with communal kitchen and dining areas.

These residences will be provided in three- and four-storey buildings that are located around a central courtyard.

Most of the bedrooms will have ensuite facilities, while the development as a whole will have a focus on sustainability, with upgraded pedestrian and cycle routes to connect the site with the nearby bus station.

The scheme is due to be finished in summer 2020.

Morgan Sindall is already on site at several other projects across the region, including a new £28m sports centre for Solent University in Southampton.


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The cost benefits of green construction

Contractor secured job via the Southern Construction Framework.

The World Green Building Council says a green building is one that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive impacts, on our climate and natural environment.

In simple terms, green buildings preserve precious natural resources and improve our quality of life.

The concept of eco-friendly building materials and developments was initially about reducing the environmental impact of construction by improving factors such as energy efficiency and waste management.

However, the role that buildings can also play in improving health outcomes, providing a positive impact on the quality of life of people around the world, has led to a major shift in focus.

As well-being moves up the list of priorities for employees around the world, building developers are moving beyond environmental goals to provide amenities that promote health and foster productivity.

The vision is to not only create built environments that are cleaner, more efficient and more sustainable but that also better equip the industry and future generations for the global challenges of tomorrow.

Green building – also referred to as eco-friendly construction – refers to both a structure and the application of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle.

This begins in the planning and design phase and is followed through in construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and even demolition, requiring the contractor, the architects, the engineers, and the client to work together at every stage throughout the process.

green buildings,

© Elizabeth Coughlan


There are several features which can make a building ‘green’. These include:


  • Efficient use of energy, water and other resources
  • Use of renewable energy, such as solar energy
  • Pollution and waste reduction measures, and the enabling of re-use and recycling
  • Good indoor environmental air quality
  • Use of materials that are non-toxic, ethical and sustainable
  • Consideration of the environment in design, construction and operation
  • Consideration of the quality of life of occupants
  • A design that enables adaptation to a changing environment.

Any building can be a green building, whether it’s a home, an office, a school, a hospital, a community centre, or any other type of structure, but not all green buildings are the same. Different countries and regions have a variety of characteristics such as distinctive climatic conditions, unique cultures and traditions, diverse building types and ages, or wide-ranging environmental, economic and social priorities – all of which shape their approach to green building.

The World Green Building Trend 2018 Report, involving 2,000 industry professionals across 86 countries, revealed that half of the sector expects most projects to be ‘green’ in three years.

Top reasons given were client demand, environmental regulations and social reasons, such as the drive to ‘do what’s right’.

Of all the social factors presented in the report, improved occupant health and wellbeing were considered the most important. Other social impacts gaining momentum include creating a sense of community and supporting the domestic economy.

The fact is green buildings provide a triple win — delivering measurable benefits for building owners, occupants and the public from reduced operating costs, improved indoor air quality and reduced energy consumption.

Despite the many benefits, there are obstacles to green building. The top barriers reported include:


  • Actual and perceived first costs
  • Lack of political support or incentives
  • Affordability
  • Lack of public awareness
  • Lack of market demand.

The good news is that these are not acting as a deterrent to buck the trend. The international market for green buildings has grown significantly in the last 10 years and demand is poised to grow, with eco-friendly house design now the preferred approach.

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ULEZ London: car clubs, bike hire and free taxis among incentives to encourage new homes buyers to go car free


London’s journey to becoming a car-free city is moving up a gear. On Monday the new Ultra-Low Emission Zone will be introduced by Mayor Sadiq Khan who also wants more central London streets pedestrianised and a ban on car parking spaces at new London homes and office blocks.

London’s journey to becoming a car-free city is moving up a gear. On Monday the new Ultra-Low Emission Zone will be introduced by Mayor Sadiq Khan who also wants more central London streets pedestrianised and a ban on car parking spaces at new London homes and office blocks.


Cycling mania has long gripped the capital but last year there was also a boom in the sale of electric scooters, skateboards and rollerblades, while the number of teenagers learning to drive continues to shrink.

Major businesses have spotted this direction of travel. For example, the proposed new Tulip observation tower in the City has no provision for parking.

“This is not the Sixties or Seventies when the car was king and the city was built around it,” says David Leam, director at pressure group London First. “We are now carving out vast public spaces for cyclists and pedestrians. The days of chairmen being chauffeured in from Surrey to the City are numbered.”

People power: last year saw a boom in the sale of rollerblades, which are now a common sight on streets in The City (Getty Images)

This is not just about making a healthy choice but with high house prices and rents, plus new green tariffs, it is becoming too expensive to keep a car in the capital. Recent research from London estate agents Benham & Reeves reveals that a parking space will put an extra £400,000 on the price of a home in Westminster or Wandsworth.


London’s new Ultra-Low Emission Zone: the rules

The new Ultra-Low Emission Zone covers the same area as the congestion charge — from Hyde Park across to Commercial Street in the east and Euston Road down to Elephant & Castle. People using diesel cars that are more than four years old, or petrol cars registered before 2005, will need to pay £12.50 extra a day to travel within the zone.

For heavier vehicles, such as vans, that don’t meet tough new emission standards, the charge will be £100. The zone is set to be extended to the North and South Circulars by 2021.


London’s new Ultra-Low Emission Zone: who is exempt?

There is a no-charge grace period until 2021 that gives residents within the zone a chance to upgrade their car — if they can afford to do so. For those who live outside the zone but need to drive into it, the levy will apply — on top of the congestion charge — from next week.

A £48 million scrappage scheme has been announced allowing micro businesses, charities and low-income households to apply for money to help them discard an old vehicle and buy a new emissions-compliant one.

The financial help is subjective, however, and the Government decides whether the applicant faces “serious financial pressure”, while micro businesses must have fewer than 10 employees to qualify. This will penalise small construction companies with more than 10 workers who drive into central London to build more homes, explains London First’s David Leam.)

Silviya Barrett from the think tank Centre for London, warns: “It’s added another layer of complexity for people... it’s a very blunt instrument.” She backs a smart system that would calculate length of journey, time of day, income, benefits and type of vehicle.

“Also, once you’re paying £12.50 a day it incentivises you to drive more,” she adds.


No more parking spaces for new London housing developments

The London Plan reads that “car-free developments should be the starting point for all proposals in places well-connected by public transport”.

The parking provision for new homes schemes with good rail and Tube links has been cut from one space per home to none. What is more, in outer London the number of spaces has been reduced from two to one-and-a-half per unit.

As a result, and to tap into the wellbeing culture, developers are now offering different incentives to entice home buyers.


London housing schemes offer car club membership and cash cards for cabs and cycle hire

Dash is a new 71-home scheme in Hoxton with one- to three-bedroom flats. Prices range from £599,995 to £1.35 million, Help to Buy is available and there is a stamp duty holiday on the two-bedroom homes. There are no parking spaces as it’s a third of a mile walk to Old Street Tube. Homes come with a 12-month car club subscription. Call 020 3504 8310.

From £599,995: Dash Hoxton flats, a third of a mile’s walk from Old Street Tube, come with a year’s car club subscription

Overlooking Battersea Park, The View, a 15-storey tower, gives each resident a cash card allowing for two years of black cab rides and London cycle hire scheme membership. Prices start from £775,000. Contact Savills on 020 7409 8756.


Cycling in London

The City of London has reported a fourfold increase in the number of cyclists, and borough councils are making cycling a major consideration in their regeneration schemes.


Cost of a London car parking space hits £219,000

Waltham Forest, one of three boroughs to apply for a £30 million Transport for London grant to create a “mini Holland”, now has a Leyton to Chingford cycle route, with town centre cycle lanes and upgraded junctions, low-traffic areas and new cycle hubs. Prices start from £295,000 for a studio flat at Motion in Lea Bridge, by Hill and Peabody. Call 020 3906 1955 for more information.

Barking Riverside is set to be London’s only NHS Healthy New Town. With over a mile of river frontage, it covers 443 acres and will deliver 11,000 new homes. Riddled with cycle tracks, its Biking Riverside cycle club offers free maintenance sessions.

“Cycle- and scooter-geddon is a risk,” says consultant Dan Horner of Dar. “We need to avoid antisocial parking of e-scooters and modify bike lanes to keep pedestrians safe, too.”


London commuters walk to work

Hordes of commuters are expected to tread the pavements this Friday, International Walk to Work Day. Banker Sanjay Chopra will be one of them.

No more trains: Sanjay Chopra moved to Canary Wharf and strolls to the office

He used to commute 12 hours a week from his home in West Byfleet, Surrey, but has now bought a studio flat at 10 Park Drive in Canary Wharf so he can stroll to the JP Morgan office. “I’ll now have those commuting hours spare to go to the gym or socialise,” he says.

With nearly 350 homes, residents at 10 Park Drive will have access to a private sky terrace on the 13th floor. For more information, email Canary Wharf Group at

London's new homes are at the forefront of the electric car revolution

Marylebone flats come with Bentley house car and Fortnums groceries

Head to trendy Walthamstow for new Help to Buy flats next to the Tube

Peabody is building a collection of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments and duplexes for private sale and shared ownership just a short walk from the City at Wharf Road in Hoxton. Prices start from £630,000. Call 020 3320 8220.

Londoners go electric

For owners of electric cars, Eastman Village in Harrow, by Barratt, has an abundance of charging points. The 55-acre former Kodak industrial site is being converted into 1,800 new homes, a school, shops and a new medical centre. Prices start from £330,000 for a one-bedroom flat, with Help to Buy available.


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The UN is supporting a design for a new floating city that can withstand Category 5 hurricanes



  • The United Nations just unveiled a concept for a floating city that can hold around 10,000 residents.
  • The city is built to withstand natural disasters like floods, tsunamis, and hurricanes.
  • The design comes from architect Bjarke Ingels and floating city builder Oceanix.
  • At a roundtable on Wednesday, the UN said floating cities could help protect people from sea-level rise while addressing the lack of affordable housing in major cities.

What once seemed like the moonshot vision of tech billionaires and idealistic architects could soon become a concrete solution to several of the world's most pressing challenges.

At a United Nations roundtable on Wednesday, a group of builders, engineers, and architects debuted a concept for an affordable floating city.

Unlike instances in the past when these futuristic designs have been met with skepticism, the executive director of the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat), Maimunah Mohd Sharif, said the UN would support and shepherd this project to fruition.

"Everybody on the team actually wants to get this built," said Marc Collins, the CEO of Oceanix, a company that builds floating structures. "We're not just theorizing."

The company believes a floating city project would address both dire housing shortages and threats from rising sea levels. The structures themselves would be designed to withstand all sorts of natural disasters, including floods, tsunamis, and Category 5 hurricanes.

The concept, known as Oceanix City, was designed by renowned architect Bjarke Ingels in collaboration with Oceanix. Though it still needs funding, it's essentially a toolkit for investors brave enough to take on the project.


Here's what the city might look like if it comes to life.


The city would essentially be a collection of hexagonal platforms that can each hold around 300 residents.


Hexagons are widely considered one of the most efficient architectural shapes. (Think of the orderly inside of a beehive.) By designing each platform as a hexagon, the builders hope to minimize their use of materials.

The designers consider a group of six platforms to be a "village." The entire city would contain six villages, for a total of around 10,000 residents.

The designers consider a group of six platforms to be a


Ingels said 10,000 is the ideal number of residents, since it would allow the island to achieve "full autonomy" by producing its own power, fresh water, and heat.

Ingels is best known for individual projects like the Superkilen public park in Copenhagen or a pair of twisting towers in New York City. But he told Business Insider that designing an entire city gives him room to expand his vision.

"At the city scale you can achieve more," Ingels said.


The villages wouldn't allow any high-emitting cars or trucks.


The city would not contain any garbage trucks. Instead, pneumatic trash tubes would transport garbage to a sorting station, where it could be identified and repurposed.

"This doesn't look like Manhattan," Collins told the UN. "There are no cars."

The design might allow for driverless vehicles, however, and the city could experiment with new technologies such as drone deliveries.

The concept calls for "ocean farming," which would involve growing food beneath the surface of the water.


Cages underneath the platforms could harvest scallops, kelp, or other forms of seafood. Aquaponic systems would use waste from fish to help fertilize plants, while vertical farms would generate year-round produce. Both of these technologies could also help the city remain self-sufficient during a hurricane or other natural disaster.


Overall, the goal is to reduce waste and produce all the food necessary to feed the city's inhabitants.

Though it's referred to as a "floating city," the community would actually be moored to the ocean floor.

Oceanix envisions the villages within about a mile of major coastal cities. The platforms could also be towed to safer locations in the event of a disaster.

The platforms would be bolstered by Biorock, a material created by exposing underwater minerals to an electric current. This leads to the formation of a limestone coating that's three times harder than concrete, but can still be made to float. The substance becomes stronger with age and can even repair itself as long as it's still exposed to the current. This allows it to withstand harsh weather conditions.

The city could also contain an aquifer system that pulls clean water out of the air.

 The city could also contain an aquifer system that pulls clean water out of the air.

"Cities really start and fail by how well they manage water," engineer Bry Sarté told the UN on Wednesday.

In a disaster scenario, machine generators could pull air from the atmosphere, condense it into water, and filter it for impurities like metal or bacteria.

The city would not contain any high-rises. To keep a low center of gravity, buildings would be between four and seven stories.

The city would not contain any high-rises. To keep a low center of gravity, buildings would be between four and seven stories.


In addition to homes, the city would feature a spiritual center, cultural center, and communal library, where residents could rent computers and bicycles as well as books.

All buildings would be constructed out of sustainable materials like timber and bamboo. They're also designed to be disassembled so that future generations of architects can reconfigure the concept.

The designers recognize, of course, that most people will continue to live on land in the future.

The designers recognize, of course, that most people will continue to live on land in the future.


Ingels referred to his vision for the city as "utopian pragmatism" — the idea that we can accomplish grand design feats in concrete, practical ways.

Not everyone would be amenable to living on water, of course, but those who can't afford high rents in major cities or who want a living situation that's less vulnerable natural disasters could benefit from the concept.

Floating homes might even have a calming effect. Ingels said he lives on a decommissioned ferry, and the rocking helps lull his son to sleep.

People would "never sleep better than they [would] on a floating island," he said.

Pulling off a floating city concept is difficult, but within reach. It's somewhat akin to landing on the moon.

Pulling off a floating city concept is difficult, but within reach. It's somewhat akin to landing on the moon.


"I see this, in many ways, as our Apollo 10 dress rehearsal," Victor Kisob, the deputy executive director of UN-Habitat, told the roundtable.

This vision was shared by many of the project's designers, including Ingels.

"This is essentially about exploration," he told Business Insider. "It's going to serve as an amazing prototype experiment for some of the challenges you're going to face on Mars."able.


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