Luxury pod living above the waves while caring for the Earth
We’re not quite capable of taking Sebastian the Crab’s advice and living a carefree life under the sea, but we’re getting very close to sustainable living offshore. Not only will life just above the waves of the world’s oceans allow humanity to take advantage of more of the Earth’s surface, but we can also do so quite comfortably. That’s the vision of Ocean Builders, which is building high-tech, eco-friendly homes that float in depths from about 15 to 650 feet of water. In their own words, the mission is to “develop revolutionary blue technology that makes the 72% of the world that is covered in water into an eco-sustainable paradise. Our technology will allow civilization to move onto the sea and it will unlock the ocean as a new frontier with a quality of life that is unbeatable anywhere else. We believe that by learning to live on the water we will open a new wave of eco-sustainable innovation that will lead to living more sustainably on land. Our modus operandi is to innovate, innovate, innovate, and then innovate some more.”
Life on the Waves
Ocean Builders is based in Panama, where it’s building its first round of SeaPods at the Linton Bay Marina on the Caribbean coast. The pods promise 833 square feet of living space, spread out over three half-floors, and 1250 cubic feet of storage. That’s good enough to provide a permanent residence for two people per pod, with the living space sitting 7.5 feet above the surface. The SeaPods range from $295,000 to $1.5 million depending on how many bells and whistles buyers tack on. The living space consists of a bedroom, living room, kitchen, and bathroom. As you might expect, there are ocean views aplenty, with panoramic windows wrapping around the pods. Ocean Builders plans to have 100 finished by the end of 2023, with a second round of 1,000 pods coming in 2024.
Tucked safely outside the hurricane zone, Panama is an ideal place to test the pods in real-world conditions. They can withstand waves as high as 5 meters (16.4 feet), and Ocean Builders CEO Grant Romundt told CNN the company is embarking on a more ambitious project in Florida to engineer pods to withstand hurricane conditions.
“If we can crack that nut, I think this will be really popular in Florida,” he said. “About 40% of our global demand and inquiries is coming from Florida, so I think there’s a huge market for these there.”
The smart home infrastructure will allow owners to control indoor temperature, lighting, water pressure, and temperature. A smart ring will let them control electronics with a simple wave. Need to stock the fridge? Drones will deliver groceries and other staples, with dedicated barges for larger items.
One With Nature
Now that you know the basics of life in the pods, you might be wondering what motivated Ocean Builders to create this haven among the waves. The changing climate and our relationship with the environment are undoubtedly factors. Demographic trends also play a role.
“Every day, thousands of people all over the world move closer to the top 15 major metropolitan cities which are within 50 miles of a coastline — a trend that will continue to grow,” Romundt said in a statement.
Coastlines will change, and what used to be safe and luxurious oceanfront property may no longer be so. But a secure SeaPod that can hold up to whatever the weather brings can keep coastal living marvelous.
“We’ve been motivated by the opportunity to change and challenge the traditional real estate and tourism models and create first-in-class living experiences that can give back to our ocean environment,” he said.
With design by Dutch architect Koen Olthuis, who specializes in floating homes in urban areas, each pod will have a habitat for ocean life below it, part of the goal of harmonizing with the environment. Ocean Builders is also working on land-based GreenPods with low-impact footprints.
The endgame, thus, is twofold. One goal is to help human civilization adapt to the climatic changes that are coming down the pike, and the other is to develop a new way of life that promotes better caretaking of the natural world. Both SeaPod and GreenPod offer an eco version that is even more restorative to the surrounding environment, and an autonomous vessel will periodically clean up trash and other debris around the pods.
As Olthuis’ Waterstudio declares, “A sustainable future lies beyond the waterfront!”
What a wonder it will be to see it take shape.