Do you think it’s possible for people to live in underwater cities? Although it may sound like an idea for a sequel to Christopher Nolan’s hit sci-fi film Interstellar, a Japanese construction firm says it could be a reality by 2030.
The Japanese construction company Shimizu Corp announced a $25-$26 billion underwater eco-city plan called “Ocean Spiral” of 5,000 people that draws its energy from the seabed thousands of metres below.
Shimizu Corp revealed a blueprint for the city of the future in Tokyo last week, claiming that Ocean Spiral will “capitalise on the infinite possibilities of the deep sea” to accommodate human life, as rising sea levels endanger the survival of island communities.
The blueprint shows a vast research and residential station some 10 miles in length that begins just below the sea’s surface and burrows beneath the ocean floor. The Shimizu spokesman Hideo Imamura told the Guardian:
“This is a real goal, not a pipe dream. The Astro Boy cartoon character had a mobile phone long before they were actually invented – in the same way, the technology and knowhow we need for this project will become available.”
Because of the extensive technology needed to build the structure and to sustain life below the surface of the ocean, the project will be ready no sooner than 15 years from now. If successfully completed, it would offer a truly unique view to underwater life.
According to Shimizu’s officials, the project, which has the support of a myriad of research firms and Japanese government agencies, visualizes a spiral-shaped structure comprised of three major sections.
The project’s officials are looking forward to securing funding from private industry and the government as it’s also supported by experts from Tokyo University.
Masaki Takeuchi, the manager of the project reportedly said to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper:
“It would be great if research institutions and governments become interested in our project.”
The 3 Parts of Ocean Spiral:
- The first part is the floating surface, which will be topped by a 500-meter sphere.
- According to the blueprint, the central part is a spiral 15km long with room for business zones, apartments, residential areas and hotel rooms for 5000 people.
- At the very bottom at about 3000 to 4000 thousand meters under the sea the spiral will be linked to an “earth-factory” – a research center for developing energy sources.
The Shimizu spokesman told the Wall Street Journal:
“This is just a blueprint by our company, but we are aiming to develop the technology that would enable us to build an underwater living space.”
The assistant professor in the urban studies department at Tokyo University, Christian Dimmer, claimed that these “techno-utopias” such as Ocean Spiral came as a reaction to other crises like climate change and rising sea levels. He reportedly told The Guardian:
“We had this in Japan in the 1980s, when the same corporations were proposing underground and ‘swimming’ cities and 1km-high towers as part of the rush to development during the height of the bubble economy. It’s good that many creative minds are picking their brains as to how to deal with climate change, rising sea levels and the creation of resilient societies – but I hope we don’t forget to think about more open and democratic urban futures in which citizens can take an active role in their creation, rather than being mere passengers in a corporation’s sealed vision of utopia.”
According to the Guardian:
“The idea of creating communities in the sea resonates in Japan, where land-based communities are at risk from large earthquakes and tsunamis.”
The company also revealed that the spiral structure would descend as much as 9 miles to the seabed, where an “earth factory” would produce methane from carbon dioxide by using micro-organisms.
Experts say that the ocean water temperature differentials between the various parts of the structure would help to generate power; this temperature difference between sea water at varying depths is the secret behind getting the power. This concept is also known as ocean thermal energy conversion.
Shimizu has been working on its new project, Ocean Spiral, with the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology and Tokyo University.
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