Does an underwater city sound too crazy to ever be possible? Not to Japanese construction firm Shimizu Corp. In a plan described by Shimizu spokesman Hideo Imamura as “a real goal, not a pipe dream,” Ocean Spiral is a deep-sea eco-city which can fit approximately 5,000 people. If plans succeed, this underwater city may be available by 2030.
We’ve seen the concept made alive in animated and sci-fi films, Shimizu Corp. has drawn a blueprint for the technicalities of creating this fantasy. From the sketches and from Shimizu’s statements, we can see that the firm envisions a 500-meter sphere floating just slightly above the surface which holds three major sections: business zones, residential areas and hotel rooms.
And the design is not just made on a whim. Shimizu Corp has consulted researchers from the University of Tokyo, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, and the government’s Fisheries Research Agency. The projected cost of building this is 3 trillion yen (about $25.6 billion), and energy sources for it are planned to be drawn from an “earth-factory” about 3,000 meters under the sea. Shimizu wants to use the ocean to their advantage by utilizing thermal energy conversion to generate electricity, and having fish farms built around the sphere.
The unveiling of this plan is not without its controversies, but it definitely is the farthest we’ve gone to actually creating an underwater city. Issues such as rising sea levels for islands and its inhabitants, dangers from tsunamis or earthquakes, and population have all been brought up as concerns towards the development of this city. On the flip side, taking up space in the ocean can also bring up ethical, political and social ramifications.
The future of this underwater city is still unknown, but one thing is certain: we can’t help but feel a sense of wonder at the thought of living under the sea.