The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island has officially announced the opening of the world’s first underwater hotel residence, a ground-breaking, two-story villa submerged more than 16 feet below sea-level. Now urging guests to dive below the surface of the Indian Ocean, the deep-set dwelling is an ambitious display of architecture, design, and technology. The villa is named “The Muraka,” which translates to “coral” in the Maldives’ native language, Dhivehi, for the way that it rests along the ocean floor, peacefully observing the sea life that surrounds it. The sunken retreat embraces luxury, equipped with a private bar, butler's quarters, gym, and infinity pool. The massive bed, shower, and bathtub have panoramic views of the ocean. The top floor, which rests above the water, comprises a sprawling relaxation deck for tanning and unwinding. The elaborate suite isn't cheap. It costs an astounding $50,000 per night, although it is only available for a four-night, $200,000 vacation package, which includes a personal chef, private boat, and automatic upgrade to Hilton Diamond status. In addition to The Muraka, The Conrad is home to Ithaa, a five-star restaurant submerged below the sea. The construction of The Muraka was both innovative and environmentally-conscious. Each piece of the modular structure was built in Singapore and then carefully shipped to the Maldives, before being plunged underwater and nailed into place using thick, concrete pylons. The sturdy pylons ensure that the villa does not shift or downright float away in the midst of high tides or rough waves. “The completion of The Muraka is a personal lifetime achievement,” said Ahmed Saleem, chief architect and designer of the residence, in a statement. “After years in the making, my team and I are proud to officially present The Muraka residence and its accompanying Maldivian experience to worldly travelers who crave the extraordinary." For travelers who aren't brave enough to spend four nights below the depths of the Indian Ocean, The Conrad also boasts a number of luxury villas that sit above the water.
Posts tagged with "Underwater Buildings":
On the southernmost tip of Norway, diners may soon be able to enjoy their meal under the waves. Snøhetta has revealed designs for a new underwater restaurant called Under. The renderings show a half-sunken concrete shell that rises from the ocean like a ruin. The building will also house a marine life research center, and was designed to co-exist with the marine habitat to eventually become an artificial mussel reef. According to the firm, the restaurant's concrete walls will be more than a yard thick to withstand the force of the ocean, while its smooth outer form is encased in a craggy surface that mussels can latch onto. The artificial mussel reef that forms over time will help to clean the waters and attract more sea life to the area. The underwater portion of the building, which comes to rest directly on the ocean floor 16 feet below sea level, opens at one end with a 36-foot-wide panoramic window that looks out into the ocean "like a sunken periscope." Even the lighting has been designed to co-exist with and encourage marine life, set to dim and also installed on the sea bed itself. The three-story building invites guests to descend from the coastline into the coatcheck area, then below to the champagne bar, with the dining room at the lowest level seating 80 to 100 guests. The menu, of course, features locally-sourced seafood. Beyond the restaurant's operating hours, research teams from Norway and elsewhere will be able to study wild fish behavior through the seasons and experiment with creating optimal conditions for sea life to flourish in proximity to the building, while the pathway to the restaurant will be planted with plaques that inform visitors about local marine biodiversity. While Snøhetta has made prior forays into waterfront and environmentally-conscious architecture, this is the firm's first underwater building.
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.
AequoreaBelgian 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.
LilypadCallebaut 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 SpiralThe 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 2London 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 CityChinese 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 MériensThis 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 Weather.com, "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:
Qatari officials considering an underwater TV station, among other outlandish pitches, as its $200 billion 2022 World Cup approaches
Seven years away and already commanding a reported $200 billion budget in preparations, the FIFA World Cup 2022 has Qatari officials deliberating over proposals for an underwater TV station. Los Angeles–based artificial reef and aquarium design firm Reef Worlds is pushing designs for a $30 million underwater broadcast studio which, post–World Cup, will be turned into a public aquarium. The studio itself will occupy a carved-out rocky cavern on the ocean floor. According to Patric Douglas, CEO of Reef Worlds, Qatar World Cup authorities warmed to the preliminary designs and “the notion of doing the World Cup underwater with sharks swimming around.” In terms of funding, Douglas predicted that it would be covered by broadcasters who want to use the film location as a base during the World Cup. “You could underwrite the entire thing with one Sky or Latin broadcast network, they will pay you enough money to finance this thing,” he told Arabian Business. Qatari officials, who have a generous appetite for the superlative and the submerged, will decide in either July or August whether to greenlight Douglas’ plans. A European real estate agent based in Dubai is developing a collection of three-story properties with one floor submerged as a cross between a boat and a villa. Each unit will reportedly sell for $1.4 million. Meanwhile, Polish architect Krzysztof Kotala is soliciting investors for his plans to build the world’s first underwater tennis stadium. Qatar’s current budget of $200 billion for the FIFA World Cup amounts to an eye-watering $100,000 per capita. This, of course, all comes as FIFA finds itself in a massive corruption scandal, and renewed scrutiny over why Qatar, a country with a terrible human rights record and a very hot climate, was awarded the 2022 World Cup. Should the proposal meet a dead end, Reef Worlds is nevertheless bent on developing “sustainable underwater tourism sites” in Dubai, UAE, and the wider Gulf. The firm recently completed designs for the world’s first underwater amusement park, which is modeled after the mythical city of Atlantis and inspired by motion pictures such as Avatar and Pirates of the Carribean. If approved, the park will be built on The World, a series of man-made islands off the coast of Dubai in the shape of a map of the world.