Floating plaza to make a splash in Florida

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The Currie Park floating plaza will be mounted on a system of responsive air chambers that will take in and expel air based on the number of people walking on the platform(Credit: Carlo Ratti Associati)

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Visitors to West Palm Beach's Currie Park in Florida will soon be able to stroll around a new plaza that's home to a restaurant, an auditorium, decorative water pools and hydroponically-grown greenery. What makes it unique, though, is that it will be floating off the coast using submarine technology.

The project is typically ambitious for one designed by architect Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA). Earlier this year, the firm unveiled designs for a park perched at the top of a mile-high tower. More recently, and perhaps more realistically, it outlined plans for what would surely be the most remote co-working space in the world, located in the Himalayas.

In order for the plaza to float, it will be mounted on what CRA calls "a system of responsive air chambers," similar to those used by some underwater vessels. The system will work by using sensors to detect the load weight on the plaza. Pumps will empty the chambers of water when it has been detected that there are a lot of people on the platform. The air subsequently filling the chambers will provide buoyancy and help to keep the plaza at a consistent level in relation to the water.

The plaza, measuring 80-90 m (262-295 ft) in length, will actually be part of a wider redevelopment for Currie Park, which will see residential towers, a pool terrace overlooking the sea, shops and an organic food hall built on a 19-ha (47-ac) stretch of the coast along the Lake Worth Lagoon.

The on-land facilities will be joined to the floating plaza by leafy pathways. The terrain of the land will also be reshaped to feature a gently sloping hill that will provide pedestrian access to the complex and views down to the front.

Construction is due to begin next month and is expected to be completed by 2018.

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