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Ocean Spiral designed to harness deep sea potential

Ocean Spiral designed to harness deep sea potential thumbnail

An increasing world population means more strain on resources, and requires increasingly innovative solutions. Japanese firm Shimizu has come up with one such idea. Ocean Spiral is an underwater city that seeks to make use of the ocean’s rich resources.

¬†Shimizu is no stranger to moonshot ideas. It has previously proposed a ring of solar panels around the moon’s equator to generate electricity for Earth and a self-sufficient, carbon-negative floating city in the Pacific Ocean. Its most recent idea, however, is more similar to Phil Pauley’s Sub-Biosphere 2 self-sustainable underwater habitat.

Shimizu says the basis for the concept is rooted in the huge potential of the deep sea and of the cycles that link in with the air, sea surface, and seafloor. The company outlines five main reasons for developing the project in the deep sea: there is potential for sourcing seafood, producing desalinated water, generating energy, treating carbon dioxide and extracting resources from the ocean and the seafloor.

The Ocean Spiral takes the form of a huge sphere known as the “Blue Garden.” It’s 500 m (1,640 ft) in diameter, floating for the most part just below the surface, but with its very top breaching the surface. This will contain 75 floors with spaces allocated for hospitality, residential, commercial and research purposes. It is expected to accommodate a population of 5,000, with 4,000 permanent residents and 1,000 visitors.

There is a walkway around the perimeter of the Blue Garden

Access to the Blue Garden and the Ocean Spiral is through the “grand entrance” on the water’s surface. The Blue Garden itself contains a huge atrium, hotel suites, an observation gondola, a sea park and a leisure and retail plaza. Temperature, humidity and oxygen levels are controlled inside.

Below the Blue Garden is a spiral that reaches 3-4 km (1.9-2.5 mi) to an “Earth Factory” on the sea-bed. The spiral accommodates the functions required for the Ocean Spiral complex to operate in the deep sea. Power is generated via ocean thermal energy conversion, food is produced via deep sea aquaculture, and water is desalinated. A monitoring facility is also located here and so too a port at which submarines can dock.

The Earth Factory is anchored to the sea-bed and is connected to similar satellite facilities via transport tunnels. These “factories” are used to store, treat and reuse carbon dioxide, as well as to cultivate and develop deep sea resources.

The Earth Factory is connected to other similar satellite facilities

The basis for the construction of the Ocean Spiral is the Blue Garden’s sphere shape. This was chosen to provide strength against the external water pressure. The sphere is further reinforced by a central internal tower. A frame for the sphere and its tower will be constructed using a resin concrete. The frame will be covered using triangular acrylic sheets measuring 50 m (164 ft) along the side, and reinforced using semi-transparent fiberglass cross-bracing ribs.

All construction is planned to take place on the surface of the ocean. Shimizu notes that the materials used and processes for construction are likely to be refined as the project moves forward, and through the ongoing development of technology.

The firm reportedly believes the project will cost in the region of ¥3 trillion (US$25.5 billion) and could be completed within 15 years.


11 Comments on "Ocean Spiral designed to harness deep sea potential"

  1. James on Wed, 26th Nov 2014 4:56 pm 

    While I am for innovations that help us sustain a lifestyle that is environmentally friendly. Most of these ideas are ludicrous simply because they are not realistic. Japan really needs to get its economy and nuclear plants under control before it worries about the future.

  2. HARM on Wed, 26th Nov 2014 5:15 pm 


    No kidding. If they want to really “wow” us with new technology, how about inventing robots that can clean up Fukushima and its thousands of tons of radioactive waste –uranium, plutonium, Cesium-137, Strontium-90, contaminated water, contaminated soil, etc.

  3. Bob Owens on Wed, 26th Nov 2014 6:35 pm 

    The largest underwater habitat I know of is in the Keys and allows a couple of scientists to live there a few weeks at a time. Mr Cousteau just finished a 30 day stint there. It is about the size of a couple of bedrooms. Humans are barely able to maintain this habitat at a depth of about 60 feet. This article is dreaming. Store it away under Fantasy.

  4. GregT on Wed, 26th Nov 2014 6:56 pm 

    All of our Earthly problems have been solved. Once we have completely destroyed all of the land on Earth, we can live for all of eternity floating around in the middle of the Oceans.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  5. MSN fanboy on Wed, 26th Nov 2014 7:03 pm 

    Underwater cities?

    Well, somebody has clearly been playing bioshock too much.

    And from a scientist too… ahhh, its painful.

  6. Makati1 on Wed, 26th Nov 2014 7:21 pm 

    Dream on…

  7. Perk Earl on Wed, 26th Nov 2014 7:26 pm 

    Some ideas are so absurd they make a person laugh.

  8. dubya on Thu, 27th Nov 2014 11:22 pm 

    Lifetime of an average modern container ship – 20 years.

    I wonder what miraculous breakthrough has occurred that will prevent this from turning into scrap in under 50 years.

  9. PrestonSturges on Thu, 27th Nov 2014 11:43 pm 

    Exactly like one of those children’s books from the 1960s.

  10. Makati1 on Fri, 28th Nov 2014 7:19 am 

    dubya, perhaps it’s made of unobtainium from the planet Pandora?

  11. Kenz300 on Fri, 28th Nov 2014 8:01 am 

    “An increasing world population means more strain on resources, and requires increasingly innovative solutions.”

    Maybe access to family planning services needs to be available to all that want it….. Might be nice to work on the real problem……..

    Endless population growth is not sustainable.

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