Would you live in this Japanese underwater city?

The Shimizu Corporation believes its Ocean Spiral proposal could overcome key urban challenges
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The Shimizu Corporation's Ocean Spiral proposal
The Shimizu Corporation's Ocean Spiral proposal

A Japanese construction company has proposed an eco-friendly underwater city, which could house 5,000 inhabitants and generate its energy from the seabed. Called Ocean Spiral, it’s the brainchild of the country's innovative Shimizu Corporation. These artist’s impressions show its three elements: a 500m-diameter floating sphere, called the Blue Garden, just under the surface of the sea would accommodate commercial activities, housing and hotels over 75 floors. This pod would be supplied with desalinated water – produced through hydraulic pressure.

 

The Shimizu Corporation's Ocean Spiral proposal
The Shimizu Corporation's Ocean Spiral proposal

A ‘path’ would spiral for 15km to the ocean bed, 3m-4m below the surface. This is where scientists will set up their labs in the Earth Factory and work on ways to draw energy from the seabed.

“This is a real goal, not a pipe dream,” says Shimizu, “The Astro Boy cartoon character had a mobile phone long before they were actually invented – in the same way, the technology and know how we need for this project will become available.”

 

The Shimizu Corporation's Ocean Spiral proposal
The Shimizu Corporation's Ocean Spiral proposal

The firm, which has teamed up with experts from Tokyo University, government ministries and energy firms, expects the necessary technology will be available in 15 years’ time. It would then take another five years to build the project at a cost of £16bn. A frame for the sphere’s structure would be constructed from a resin concrete clad in acrylic sheeting and strengthened with semi-transparent fiberglass.

As fanciful as it seems, concepts like the Ocean Spiral are an attempt to address Japan’s problems of major earthquakes and tsunamis, both of which are a threat to coastal communities.

 

The Shimizu Corporation's Ocean Spiral proposal
The Shimizu Corporation's Ocean Spiral proposal

Moreover, Shimizu’s people are no strangers to outlandish concepts. Others include a Luna Ring to harness lunar solar power, and a Space Hotel. The firm also started work on an experimental offshore floating wind farm in 2012, and built this, their highly ecological headquarters, a couple of years ago too. So, who knows whether Ocean Spiral might break ground, or rather water, sometime soon.

For more on high-concept city living, buy a copy of Living in the Endless City; for a positive look at our future, get our ibook, The World We Made; and for greater insight into the way we build today, sign up for a free trial of the Phaidon Atlas, our peerless architectural resource.


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