Earth & Conservation

Liberland May Become First Country Powered by Algae

The plan for this micro-nation's urban development includes sustainable power from algae and a system for recycling 100 percent of waste.

<p>Photo: Liberland Facebook // President Vít Jedlička with journalists celebrating Liberland's one year anniversary</p>

The European micro-nation of Liberland could become the site of the first-ever algae-powered city. The 2.7-square-mile country, located in the Danube River on a disputed piece of land between Serbia and Croatia, held a design competition to select plans for urban development, Inhabitat reported.

Liberland was founded in April 2015 by Czech politician Vít Jedlička, who is now the country's sitting president. As a Libertarian, President Jedlička wanted to start a country where the government didn't interfere with things like freedom, prosperity and overall happiness.

Thanks to harsh restrictions by the Croatian border police, Liberland doesn't technically have any inhabitants (albeit a waiting list of hundreds of thousands) even a year after its conception, but that hasn't stopped the president and his team from planning for the future.

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RAW-NYC won the design challenge for Liberland with a proposal for a deep green mixed-use city, including building layers that stack vertically to accommodate population growth. This architecture technique, known as Inverted Archaeology, is somewhat revolutionary in that it results in very dense, compact, resilient, self-sufficient buildings. The key to the self-sufficiency is that algae will be grown on the underside of each building, providing a source of clean, sustainable energy.

The design is different from most traditional vertically stacked buildings like skyscrapers because the horizontal layers are stacked in a staggered format. Not only does this allow natural light to reach every level, but it also makes it easier to walk between levels so residents can see their neighbors on more than just the ground floor, hopefully encouraging a friendlier living environment.

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In addition to growing algae as a clean energy source, the RAW-NYC design includes integrated photovoltaic panels, a group of solar photovoltaic technologies that can replace certain building materials like windows or roof shingles. The buildings would also have green roofs and rainwater harvesting systems, and all waste would be recycled, including organic, agriculture and even human waste, which would then be converted to biofuel.

The RAW-NYC team had a very specific goal in mind with their planning process: to create an environment that would allow Liberland citizens of any race, age, gender or ethnicity to have the opportunity to benefit from the financial gains of the project. For that reason, their team was comprised of collaborators from around the world.

"To bring people together from different backgrounds substantiated our ideas and enriched the design process," RAW-NYC founder Raya Ani told Inhabitat.

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The winning design is currently being studied by Jedlička and his team to see if it is actually a viable option for the country. The president told Inhabitat that the green technology and stackable building designs show that Liberland has the potential to become a habitable and self-sufficient country.

"We will further study upon the 1st place project to see if and how exactly it could be introduced in reality. When that's possible, we want to launch a virtual 3-D landscape with building models to help people choose a place to live or to invest in," he said.

If the design is implemented, Liberland will be one of the first urban developments in the world to be completely zero-waste and genuinely sustainable.