For the last five years, eVolo Magazine has hosted a futuristic skyscraper design competition. Usually, the entrants imagine giant buildings taller than anything under construction today. However, the most impressive entry in this year's competition goes the opposite route, by dropping the building straight into the sea. This floating building would generate its own electricity and food, house thousands, and plunge deep beneath the waves.
Designed by Sarly Adre bin Sarkum of Malaysia, the waterscraper would be about as tall as the Empire State Building, but with only a couple of stories exposed above the surface. The whole building would be a self-sufficient, floating, arcology. Wind, solar, and wave power would provide energy, hydroponics and the green space at the top would provide food and oxygen, and the structure would provide housing, work spaces, and areas for recreation.
Ballast tanks would keep the structure level, like in a submarine, as would the tentacles. The tentacles would also move around in the ocean tides, generating electricity from kinetic energy.
Adre bin Sarkum deliberately designed this building to contrast with the skyscrapers that dominate the rest of the competition, and to highlight sustainable architecture.
Obviously, no one has any plans to build anything remotely like this. But if global warming throws us into a WaterWorld like future, Adre bin Sarkum's aqua-condo looks like much sweeter digs than a rickety boat captained by a urine-drinking fish-man.
That's an interesting design. This isn't exactly on topic, but I used to have an interest in designing buildings under water. This could be a good industry to enter, assuming Arde bin Sarkum plans to build these in the future.
My idea I had as a kid was to build a full city underwater. It would have been built with a tubular strucure and would consist of multiple entryways and exits to other building structures. I thought about the troubles that would cause though, like what happens if the city collapses due to water pressure or what if water somehow seeps into the buildings.
Not really feeling the coffin shaped tips of the tentacles. Kinda macabre putting them effectively underground compared to the rest of the living space. Definitely don't want to hang out in my billion dollar underwater condo drinking champagne constantly being reminded of the 'pressure of death' every time I look down out my window. I think I'll be investing in the bright, cheery Zeppelin apartments instead.
If this think was really hundreds of feet deep, you could generate quite a lot of electricity just exploiting the temperature difference between the surface and the cold water at the bottom.
Even simpler than that, you could hydroelectric turbines running down the middle of the building- just let in a little water at the top and let it generate power as it descends. Just be sure you have a very reliable pump at the bottom to push it back outside.
Wow. I really think Sarly Adre bin Sarkum of Malaysia should get a standing ovation. This is really over-the-top. I've always been interested in engineering and architecture, but this is beyond anything I've ever imagined. It's a fantastic concept.
My favorite part about this design is how it can fend for itself. It makes its own food AND electricity while not taking much spaceup in te middle of the ocean. Kudos Sarly Adre bin Sarkum of Malaysia!
Very interesting!! I wonder if wind turbine generators could be mounted on top? Perhaps water turbine generators also? In certain countries like Japan where land is at a premium this makes a lot of sense. (Heck even the coastline of California) I'm not sure how something like this would stand up to a tsunami, but I suspect it's more "earthquake resistant" than being built on "solid ground". If this works on the "positive displacement" theory that makes ships float, I wonder what the actual size you could build would be? I suppose aircraft carriers get as big as 75000 tonnes. But if some current skyscrapers weigh 250000 to 350000 tones, (I'm not sure if those numbers includes foundations and "live load") that is a lot of water to displace!
LOL - at the "coffin shaped" tentacles. But I suppose they wouldn't have to be that shape.
Wheres the giant waterslide?
It's a jellyfish! How exactly would you build that?! Getting it into the ocean would be fun to watch.
Totally Bioshock right now.
This is just the type of thinking that could get us back on track.
Simple prediction, Aquascraper will actually start as the self contained farmscraper plan of sorts with workforce living spaces near the top.
Workforce structure much like ships or oil platforms that rotate crew members or possibly even families every few months. Think of a corporation that manufactures offshore with a self supportive environment and minimal negative distraction. How about that rush hour traffic and poor air quality, NOT..LOL
I'm in Sign me up.
I've been thinking about archeologies for a while, and that's a pretty clever idea. Probably way easier to float the whole thing than to keep it supported aboveground, although leaks would be a serious issue. The tentacles probably aren't the best idea, though, and there's not much space up top for the wind and solar power.
Some ideas for improvement: Tether it to the bottom; both to keep it in one place, and tugging on the tether due to tides and ocean currents could be turned into energy. Possibly use multiple tethers to keep the whole thing from tilting. Underwater fans would probably work waaay better than those weird tenticles, and depending on how deep the ocean currents get they could be placed all the way down.
This idea also could be combined with the idea for a swarm of ship-plates that make modular cities; a few of those around the top would give more surface area for solar energy, plants, parks, and so on, as well as some that could move from archology to archology like a circus type thing.
Interesting idea, I'll give you that. Self-sustaining islands floating around the world is a great idea. Though, if you want anything from the main land, it starts getting really expensive. Hawaii for instance has incredibly high prices for things such as food, clothing, gas, bottled water, etc. In addition anyone who's been on an island for long, it can get a little tough for long seasons. Island fever is a real thing. I can't imagine how sub-mariners spend 6 month long tours of duty. It must get pretty challenging at times.
also it would be eartquake-safe
Bravo -- this is the right idea. I'm curious, how many meters down would the living quarters be? Would there be any natural light at that level at all? What happens in a hurricane? Shopping I can live with underground, and it would be great to not need a car. What about pets? Access to the "mainland?" Congratulations on the idea. Caroline, www.shoes-addiction.com
Hate to be the wet blanket, but what about hurricanes? Being in Florida, that was the second thought. The First one was cooooool. hahaha
just like atlantis
It's a great idea, but technically would be cost prohibitive to construct. Just think of the drydock you would need to build it. Also, maintenance would be staggering; saltwater is very corrosive.
the design is great but my concern is that the only way to build it would be to build it directly over the water. The problem with this is the amoount of money it wuold take to even create this teck. on the bright sid ebuilding theis would probebly creat millions on jobs across the world. i am also worried about what will happen when we dwel to deep in the search for more livable space. what happens if the water pressur becomes too much and crushes the lower part of the city? overall this design has many flaws to work out before we can even think of what to build it with.
A fun idea to look at and think about. It certainly gets the imagination flowing. To comment on a few points from other comments:
Construction - I would think you could build this without a typical drydock or construction facility. For example, build the bottom first, and have it empty so that it floats enough for the next little section to be built on top. As you build up section after section, the whole structure tends to sink, but you can stay above the level of the water, using the ballast tanks in the bottom to make finer adjustments. There are lots of tall sea structures built in diverse ways these days already.
Tsunamis - This thing would not be close to shore, and tsunamis are not dangerous in the open ocean. Most of the time they are waves only a few feet high at most as they travel in open water. It is only as they reach the shallow waters of a shoreline and the depth of the ocean decreases that they have to rise and slow because their energy is essentially compressed upwards.
Cost - I agree the cost would be most likely prohibitive, at least for housing anyone but the ultra rich. The amount of steel and supporting structure you'd need to support those water pressures can't come cheap. Plus there would be lots of specialized systems and equipment, numerous failsafe/backup systems, extra costs due to the wear and tear from the ocean, etc.
Self-Contained - The idea of this being self contained would probably have to be considered with a huge caveat: The people who live here would have to be extreme conservationists. There is simply not enough room to grow/produce the things that average people today use, in the quantity that they use them. Put a few thousand people on there, and you'll probably be killing 10 or 20 cows a day just to keep up with the beef demand, for one example. People would have to be willing to live with a lot less stuff, a lot fewer luxuries than they are used to today. And since only the mega rich could afford this place, that becomes even harder to do, as they are accustomed to having much more.
Hydroelectric - I think the energy generation methods the designer has incorporated are probably the most appropriate for his design. A few mentioned hydro by letting water fall down the length of it, like inside a dam generating station. The problem is that the pumps at the bottom would either have to take it back up, wasting all the energy and more, or they would have to push that low pressure water out into a very high pressure environment, which would also likely require more energy than what is produced by the falling water.
Certainly I enjoy looking at this design, and even if it never becomes feasible, it is still fun to dream. I'd think that to be more realistic we would need something with a much bigger ratio of top surface area to ocean depth. Something akin to a ship that is very flat, not too tall, and has a very large top area for the harvesting of more energy and the growing of more plants and animals for food and other items. I'm thinking like half the height (above water) of an aircraft carrier , but with maybe 10 times the surface area on top? We can all dream I guess.
I think you're starting to look at this as a floating arcology, which is definitely another great idea to discuss, but if we look at the title, we have to scale back to just a "waterscraper."
At which point I think you'd have to agree it would have to be near shore and not self-sufficient. Which solves problems such as provisions, which could be ferried over (at a great cost of course.) Or if it is a residential tower then all you would need is a shuttle/ferry and the residents could do all their shopping on the mainland. I don't know if all the sources of energy (solar, wind, water-based) would be enough to power it with current tech; if someone has better knowledge of that please comment back.
However, being close to shore requires greater structural strength to deal with tsunamis and the like. Unless these could be built calmer bodies of water like the Great Lakes. Perhaps of the shores of Chicago?
Finally, I think you're onto something with the "aircraft carrier" design idea. A cube or sphere has more volume to surface area than an elongated structure like a cylinder or rectangular block like most skyscrapers. I know you can't make a floating cube building (unless you're the borg), but I think you see where I'm going with this.
In any event, this won't be built for a long time (if ever) because the economics don't work. Way too much land left to build on which is much cheaper and already has proven tech behind it.
I recently read a novel with a building of this sorts, but it was an underwater hotel, and then a large hurricane came by and threatened to put the hotel into the rocks off one of the Caribbean Islands. I'm just wondering if this would be anchored to the ocean floor somehow, otherwise what is to keep it from just drifting into the shore, besides the enormous length of course.
Shopping cart + Beating someone up = Fine Dining?
Wonderful concept and illustration; we can always dream. What will nanotubes in plastic wraps mean for massive buildings and space enclosures? The upper floors super strong plastic wrap instead of glass and metal how much bigger could light towers be?
You know, everyone's talking about letting low-pressure water fall the length of the building, and the inherent problems with that, but what about letting high-pressure water at the bottom shoot up the length of the building, and then out with the low-pressure water? There's problems with clearing that channel out after every cycle of the thing, but with a little cleverness it could be done. Seems easier than the first bit, at any rate.
Great idea from the designer. I can see a quite a few places on the planet that could be suitable for this "reverse-engineering thinking-outside-the-box" idea.
Technically the precendent for construction is already set via CGS Concrete Gravity Structures used extensively in the oil and gas industry so really this is only a step-forward with a different application. I would presume no matter if this was close to shore or further it would be anchored to the sea-bed.
For people that read science magazines a large percentage of you don't know much about science E.G. water down center shaft. Take a glass of water, get a straw and put your finger over the top end, put it in glass water rises to the water level in glass then stays there. Now you could harness wave power as some mentioned someone else pointed out the possibility of temp diff engines as in Sterling cycle engines, Solar cells floating on top of fish cages tethered to the building. and just off the top of my head sell the fish and drill for oil. Turns out theres a lot of it under the sea floor.
Impractical, idiotic and pointless.
You can't puke off the side if it's underwater.
Wow, that is amazing dude. I like it.