Oceania’s Climate Renaissance

Native Hawaiian artist, Solomon Enos creates a dynamic new Waikīkī in the year 2050, a place that has become an amazing model of climate change adaptation.
Hawaii Of Tomorrow Climate Change

Illustration: Solomon Enos


When the sea began to rise, so did our island community, together, in a new era of cooperation.


Twenty years have passed since the Pacific began its slow, sure ascent inland, demanding its preeminence be acknowledged by everybody in its expanse. The greatest minds of Oceania, from Aotearoa to Hawai‘i, pooled their political and scientific capital and spearheaded the international effort to stem the tide.


Now, in 2050, after a decade of collective reinvention, we have finally turned a corner on climate. We dream new dreams, and from adaptation blooms solutions in resilience that we gift to our children’s future.


Floating promenades bedeck O‘ahu’s south shore, an ornate shield. As each raised segment of the walkway bobs above the crests and troughs of the king tides, built-in kinetic converters transform wave energy into electricity, powering the pumps that protect coastal infrastructure. We call it The Channel, a place where visitors and residents stroll through artisan maker-markets on sunny afternoons.


04 22 Special Section Heco Spots Floraform Architect

Floraform Architect: Organic tech pioneers upgrade wires with smart roots, solar panels with giant leaves. An AR metalayer translates rhizome exudates (plant-to-plant chatter) to data and power.

After we retired our last fossil-fuel generating plant, Hawai‘i began experimenting with new zero-emission solutions. In Waikīkī, a new kind of technology is blossoming, one that uses remnants of ancient litter and living flora as building materials in place of mined ores.


In experimental corners of our city, data, water, and energy flow through chloroplast stroma in a vast living network. Root systems move and purify freshwater between buildings, and mycelial threads transmit data faster than fiber optics. One day, the natural chlorophyll of giant leaves will complement solar panels in a single electrical system.


Autonomous, solar-powered gardener-constructor bots superheat plastics reclaimed from ancient ocean debris. They crawl up and extrude plastic lattices directly onto building exteriors, 3-D printing the honeycomb structures that anchor the roots of hanging gardens. Vertical forests rise from the facades of neighboring buildings, cooling non-permeable hardscapes and drinking flood waters.


Bridges 3-D printed between buildings form walk-able common greenspaces high above sea level, adding to the buzz of life in the island city by building up instead of out. On these Highline Constellations, neighbors and visitors meet to peruse locally farmed produce and enjoy public performances.


04 22 Special Section Heco Spots Gardener Builder

Gardener Builders: Children regard the autonomous bots that crawl on building facades as guardian-spirits, imbued with artificial intelligence to tend to the wellbeing of plants and people alike.

Now, as before, people come from around the world to tour this awe of nature we call home. Here, in the cradle of the organic tech revolution, practitioners teach groups through immersive experiences. One group of school children visiting from Fiji takes trowels and spades to plant huli on a fourth floor veranda.


A giant technicolor lei swirls above the class and between residences. It is part of the metaverse layer that adorns the town, visible only through augment-ed reality (AR) lenses. Virtual badges like these are earned—and proudly displayed—by neighborhood blocks and hometown businesses for meeting climate and resiliency goals. It’s three parts cooperation, one part friendly competition.


Their kumu describes how their plantings will win points for her Kālia neighborhood in this season’s Resiliency Games. The students swaddle each kalo shoot in soil and laugh as points ping to life on their AR displays.