Posts tagged with "Great Pacific Garbage Patch":

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Architects turn to the sea with real proposals for subaquatic living

Sub-aquatic colonization is as alien as inhabiting Mars, yet both topics trend in the design world. Some designers believe residing in the deep sea would resolve crises over food, energy, water, and carbon dioxide. Here are six proposals for subaquatic cities, some of which are being realized, despite resembling post-apocalyptic films.


Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut has revealed ambitious plans for Aequorea, a series of self-sufficient floating villages constructed of recycled plastics from the Great Pacific garbage patch. Each jellyfish-like eco-village would spiral down to the sea floor—forming 250-floor "oceanscrapers"—and house up to 20,000 people. The 250 floors would contain science labs, offices, hotels, sports fields, and farms. Micro-algae would grow in the aquatic walls, and the villages would operate on algae fuel or hydrocarbons. According to Vincent Callebaut Architectures, the objective of Aequorea's residents would be to "explore the abyssal zones in a respectful way, in order to speed innovation and to democratize new renewable energies – by definition inexhaustible – massively." See the Aequorea project page here.


Callebaut also designed Lilypad, a floating city that could house 50,000 people. The proposed city's form mimics the intensely ribbed Victoria water lily. An artificial lagoon would lie in the center, surrounded by three marinas and three mountains. These ribs would house work, shopping, and entertainment, while food and biomass would be produced below the water line. Callebaut hopes for Lilypad to be built by 2100. See the Lilypad project page here.

The Ocean Spiral

The Ocean Spiral, an underwater metropolis proposed by Japanese construction firm Shimizu Corp, would drive energy from the seabed and house up to 5,000 people. Homes, businesses, and hotels would reside in a sphere 1,640 feet in diameter and connect to a 9-mile spiral that extends to a submarine port and factory. Ocean Spiral would use micro-organisms to turn carbon dioxide into methane. According to Shimizu Corp, the project is being researched by Tokyo University, Japanese government ministries, and energy firms. Shimizu Corp believes the necessary technology will be available in 15 years and construction would take five. See the Ocean Spiral project page here.

Sub Biosphere 2

London based design consultant, Phil Pauley, designed Sub Biosphere 2, a network of biomes to house 100 people below water. The center biome would rise 400 feet above water, submerge 20 feet below water, and regulate fresh air, water, food, electricity, and atmospheric pressure. The surrounding biomes would split ten stories above water and ten below. Residents would live off hydroponic crops, grown in the biome seed bank. See Phil Pauley's webpage here.

Floating City

Chinese construction firm, CCCC-FHDI, commissioned England and China based firm, AT Design Office, to design a four-square-mile floating city utilizing the technologies CCCC-FHDI is using to build a 31 mile bridge between Hong Kong, Macau, and Zhunai. AT Design Office proposes prefabricated hexagons connected by underwater tunnels. The hexagons would contain residential, commercial and cultural facilities. All residences would have ocean scenery from every direction. The top of each block would have a club, while the bottom would contain an equipment room and a gravity regulation system. Architect Slavomir Siska said, "China Transport Investment is reviewing the proposal and is likely to start to test this ambitious project from a smaller scale next year." See AT Design Office's webpage here.

The City of Mériens

This 3,000-foot-long, 1,600-foot-wide manta ray is actually a floating university campus, called the City of Mériens. French Architect Jacques Rougerie designed the city to accommodate 7,000 academics for research and education. The city contains classrooms, lecture halls, laboratories, residences, and recreation, which would all run on renewable marine energy to produce zero waste. Rougerie told, "I designed the City of Mériens in the form of a manta ray because it was the best design to accommodate such a community with regards [to] the best possible correlation between space and stability needs." The manta ray form is to counteract turbulence, while the descended structure is to maintain steadiness—rising 200 feet above water and 400 feet below. See Jacques Rougerie Architecte's webpage here. Although these ambitious proposals and renderings can be mistaken for science-fiction, organizations are seriously investing in their research and implementation. Maybe we will see smaller scale aquatic cities in our lifetime, but in the meantime, here is Kevin Costner's Water World:
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This Ocean Cleanup system runs virtually without power, hopes to clean up half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 10 years

Ridding the oceans of plastic waste is no longer an ecologist’s pipe dream. The Ocean Cleanup system, designed by 20-year-old aerospace engineering student Boyan Slat, is soon to be deployed off the coast of Tsushima Island in the Korea Strait. At 6,600 feet in breadth, it will be the longest floating structure ever deployed on the ocean and yet be sufficiently energy-efficient as to sustain itself and even generate profit. The contraption harnesses the ocean’s natural gyres (five circular currents throughout the world’s oceans—two in the Atlantic, two in the Pacific, and one in the Indian Ocean), to trap plastic flotsam. It uses a seawater processing station fixed to the seabed to collect waste as the ocean moves around it. The station will have large booms instead of nets to allow marine life to safely pass beneath the system. The stationary platform itself will be powered by solar energy or kinetic energy derived from the current. According to Slat, the accumulated plastic may even be sold to make the model profitable, or converted into oil provided that the plastic has sufficiently degraded. The Tsushima government is currently investigating the feasibility of the latter. Data from the Ocean Surface CURrent Simulator (OSCURS) projects that the Ocean Cleanup can eliminate 7,991 tons of plastic within five years. “According to current estimations—due to the plan’s unprecedented efficiency—the recycling benefits would significantly outweigh the costs of executing the project,” Slat wrote on his website. TsushimaCamera6_5K copy The project has thus far completed a feasibility study, a crowd-funded pilot phase in the neighborhood of $2.1 million and will be deployed in the second quarter of 2016 in waters bisecting Japan and Korea. Within five years, Ocean Cleanup plans to deploy a 62-mile-long system to passively clean up 42 percent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch between Hawaii and California within 10 years. The trash vortex is made of a concentration of microplastic particles which float on or a few feet beneath the water, giving it the appearance of a cloudy soup. Thus the patch itself is not visible via satellite imagery. Slat’s “passive” scalable array of floating barriers affixed to the seabed covers millions of square feet without moving an inch. By contrast, using vessels and nets would take 79,000 years, tens of billions of dollars, and generate carbon emissions. Seeing as no nets are used in The Ocean Cleanup, the entanglement of fish and mammals is "virtually impossible."