As plans go, its ambition might be Bond-villainesque and its scale Godlike, but as an actual concept the Freedom Ship is a staggering feat of imagination. The brainchild of American Norman Nixon, founder and CEO of Freedom Ship International, the Freedom Ship will be the world’s first floating city. Four times longer than the Queen Mary (presently the world’s largest ship), it will travel continuously around the globe via the main coastal regions of every continent. Eighteen thousand people will live and work upon it, and hundreds of thousands more able to visit using its enormous fleet of commuter aircraft and hydrofoils. It will house hotels to rival the most luxurious on Earth. It will have, in theory, everything you find desirable about the greatest and most exciting cities on the planet and will be, in essence, a utopia. The problem is that it doesn’t exist. This is surreal estate.
Though it is of course Nixon’s intention to see his dream become a gargantuan reality, at the moment it is little more than a thought project – a theoretical debate – the world’s biggest ‘what if?’ One man’s dream, after all, is another man’s nightmare. The subject of fierce argument on the internet, in institutes and universities and amongst internationally-renowned engineers, whether or not the Freedom Ship ever gets its maiden voyage remains to be seen.
Some argue that the Freedom Ship is logistically impossible, and that a boat that size would simply capsize under its own incredible weight. Nixon refutes such claims, pointing out that if they were to use a barge-building technique then, in theory at least, the design is a perfectly viable one. The ship would be the slowest on the seas, taking an estimated three years to circumnavigate the globe just once, but nonetheless would still be a working ship. After all, a Ferrari at 1mph is still a Ferrari.
Others believe it would simply become an excuse for a massive duty free shopping mall, and that its vision of utopia is an ultra-cynical capitalist one meant only for profit, albeit at astronomical expense. And then there are those who simply dismiss Nixon as a madman. He is, some say, little more than a dreamer. But then, isn’t it always the dreamers that know the most about freedom?