“Various attempts have been made to construct under water habitats for humans to research the possibility of settling the ocean floors” In fact, underwater worlds is an idea that always has been around since the beginning of human civilization. Atlantis, Rapture, and Twenty Thousands Leagues under the sea are the expression of the human imagination of the world an civilizations under the sea. Furthermore, the advances in technology and the combination of utopian and creative ideas have inspired today’s architects, engineers and scientist to envision the city of the future. In fact, several prototypes of under-water-floating cities have been proposed with a utopian idea behind. The city of the future would provide accommodation for human life in a self-sustainable floating structure while overcoming the threat of climate change survival. Sounds very similar to a plot of sci-fi movie at the Christopher Nolan style right?
Phil Pauley, a London based innovator, concept designer, futurologist and creator of Moral Order – a science fiction book series in where stories tell the near future of the planet – has conceptualized a closed and self-sustainable underwater habitat through the design of Sub-biosphere 2. The design is an arrangement of eight geodesic domes connected to a central and larger dome. He believes that the structure would play a role as a ‘global seed bank’, storing and sustaining human, plant and animal life. He states that if we cannot avoid a runaway greenhouse effect, it may be that we may be safer living underneath the sea in the long-term. Although the habitat structure can only offer shelter space for 100 people, the structure has integrated systems to supply and manage air, food, fresh water an electricity making life underneath the sea possible.
Likewise, a Korean project submitted by Ha-hae Kim to the Evolo Magazine Annual Skyscraper Competition has literally turned the skyscraper approach upside-down. The Underwater Wonderland project envisions a super deep under-water building that rather celebrates the deepest structure instead of the tallest structure of the building.
The Korean project was an investigation for a sea-skyscraper and artificial land. The project introduces the theory of Mega-Float and Tension Leg Platform (TLP), thus facing the challenges that are existent while building under the sea. The system is complex but possible. The artificial island platform keeps its position by tension while radial beams at every 30 meters under the sea handle the load of the structure itself and finally, a tuned massed damper – a device mounted in building structures to reduce the amplitude of mechanical vibrations to prevent structural failure- controls the vibration caused by ocean currents and wave movement.
Moreover, not only the structural system is complex, but the structural form and program as well. The form of the structure was determined by the analogy between floating objects at sea and the association of the exclusive characteristics of each object. The decision was to develop a floating-inverse-cone in where an opera house, theater, pool, scientific laboratory and sports complex is contain. The project quotes that island-polis would be the next generation’s destination and it envisions a series of artificial floating structures harmonically creating a network with the existing land and the open ocean around the world. “The island polis will be a product of digital network that will pass over time and space.” In other words, these structures would be the future buildings and structures that would be inherit overtime to human civilizations.
Furthermore, a more recent project was unveiled. A Japanese construction company, Shimizu, has come up with another innovative solution for a self sustainable structure in where natural resources can be produced under the sea, such as the one Pauley’s envisions, but with a similar structural system as the Korean floating island that overcomes the existing challenges in sea construction. The Japanese Ocean Spiral project claims to be an an underwater eco-city designed for deep-sea-living.
Shimizu vision is a self sustain living environment contained within a eco-sustainable structure, which has become the “techno-utopian” solution for the development of new construction as a response to the climate change and concerning rising sea levels. Similarly, both Pauley’s Sub-Biosphere 2 and the Ocean Spiral would be able to create its own energy and natural resources. According to the Japanese project, not only Ocean Spiral would be able to produce drinking water by the hydraulic pressure of ocean water but also it would produce methane by the transformation of carbon-dioxide.
some people may believe that accommodations for human life under the sea might not be the solution for the survival of the human race facing a crisis of climate change
In addition, the structure recalls a floating helix similar to the Korean sea-scrapper. The Ocean Spiral city would be contained in a geodesic floating dome which will be located just below the surface of the sea, housing business, residential zones and hotels. Then a series of helical structures would winds its way down to the ocean floor in where scientist will research and explore new ways to obtain natural resources.
Indeed, expeditions have been sent to outer space and beyond the milky way. We have landed in the moon and scientific research is ongoing in Mars and the outer galaxy. Thus, the advances in technology and scientific research has also make the underwater world available for human outposts. Now, not only the feasibility of human life outside our planet is close to become real, but life under the sea can be a possibility within just a couple of decades. Although, some people may think that these architectural ideas and design concepts may recall a sci-fi film, a spokesman from Shimizu affirms that “This is a real goal, not a pipe dream.”
On the other hand, some people may believe that accommodations for human life under the sea might not be the solution for the survival of the human race facing a crisis of climate change. Most important, we have to think about more open and egalitarian urban futures, in where life decisions and creations are made by the participation of the individuals rather that the “utopian” vision of the corporations.