Lethal Beauty: the Rugged Military Architecture of Artificial Islands

Castles and fortresses are strangely fascination: highly functional but built to terrify, simple geometries extended to extreme scales and sizes. A small subset of this military architecture was in the news recently: China was found to be constructing artificial islands to host naval installations in the South China Sea. It’s all part of their strategy to enforce their claims of sovereignty in the area, but it’s also a move from a very old playbook.

Raising lands from the sea for defensive purposes has been practiced for hundreds of years. In 1713 the Danish navy sunk ships off Copenhagen to create the foundations of fortresses that still stand today. Here’s a collection of such military endeavors: many artificial islands are now derelict or abandoned, perhaps that will be the fate of these new Chinese ones in 100 years?


Top Image: Manusell Forts, image from Russss via Wikipedia


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