How Close Are We to Creating Underwater Homes and Cities?

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How Close Are We to Creating Underwater Homes and Cities?

There are predictions that many major coastal cities will be heavily flooded by the end of the century / Sergey Nivens via Shutterstock

 

Many of us are aware of the fact that the tides are encroaching on countries’ shores more and more with each passing decade. There are predictions that many major coastal cities will be heavily flooded by the end of the century. With the looming threat of overpopulation and rising sea levels giving us less space for us to live on land, is it actually a good option to go looking for our new homes underneath the water?

Beginnings of Undersea Living

Throughout the 1900s there have been several ideas and fantastical stories of underwater exploration and the things that could be found there. But first things first, is it actually possible to construct buildings underwater?

The short answer is yes. Jacques Cousteau, an undersea explorer, was the first to explore the idea of living underwater to fruition back in the 1960s. He created the world-famous Conshelf series of undersea habitats that allowed oceanauts to live underwater for several days to even weeks at a time. The three shelters he created were improved over time, and at their prime, they held up to six oceanauts each at a depth of 100 meters below the water.

Even now, with many travelers and vacationers looking for more exotic places to spend their holidays, hotels and resorts have risen to the occasion and created rooms with sub-aquatic views, such as in the Zanzibar Manta Resort or the Poseidon Undersea Resort.

Research Center Underwater

At the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, there are several astronauts, engineers, and scientists being brought in through the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations project (NEEMO). The center is about the size of a school bus and has six bunk beds for occupants. Found about 20 meters below sea level, it can accommodate astronauts several weeks at a time to prepare them for upcoming exploration mission in space, as the habitat is one that provides these men with similar challenges that would be experienced in space or on another planet. Aside from basic amenities, such as electricity, showers, and a kitchen, there is also a mobile phone signal and Wi-Fi, according to RichardvanHooijdonk.com.

Viability of Underwater Living

While creating habitable spaces underwater is one thing, creating communities and large-scale structures is quite another. There are great challenges to living underwater, such as the lack of oxygen, incredible pressure, freezing, and even wreaking havoc on the human body.

The depth at which the structure is built will have an effect on how the humans inside will breathe and how the structure itself should be built to accommodate this. So, as explained by InterestingEngineering.com, a colony should not be built beyond a depth of 300 meters. The immense pressure beyond this depth would pose a serious risk to both the structure and the humans within. The walls would need to be extremely thick to combat decompression, and other elements, such as artificial light and plants would be needed to ensure a good ratio of oxygen and other essential gases in the air.

Considering where we stand currently in terms of technology and engineering, humankind already has the ability to create colonies underwater that could support as many as 100 people at a time. With the challenges taken into consideration, solar technology could be used to manufacture an environment where we could breathe and create fuel for our electronic needs. Some scientists and architects believe that in the next century, humankind could be living in bubble cities beneath the ocean. The only hurdle currently is the funds to create such structures, and the creation of emergency evacuation systems and long-term controls for environmental humidity and air supply.

Plans for Ocean Cities

Underwater living spaces can be created, and there are already several companies and countries looking into the possibilities. One of the most popular contenders is Shimizu Corp., a Japanese company that is creating plans for deep sea city that would potentially house about 5,000 people. The Ocean Spiral City, as they’ve coined it, would theoretically sit just off the coast of their capital, Tokyo, and has massive turbines powering the city through tides and ocean currents. They have also planned the city to be self-sufficient, with its own stores, office, and other various facilities. The project is estimated to have a value of more than $20 billion and may become a reality by 2030.

Underwater living spaces can be created, and there are already several companies and countries looking into the possibilities / Zastolskiy Victor via Shutterstock

 

Aside from this, there are also plans made by Australia, a high-risk country in terms of rising sea levels. Syph, the Ocean City, is an idea put forth by Arup Biomimetics. In their arrangement, the city would be made up of individual pods that have specific functions, from food production to energy generation. Perhaps most impressive of all would be the squid-like tentacles beneath the city, which would generate kinetic energy through the waves and convert it into power to support residents and agriculture.

Human ingenuity may yet allow us to live and thrive in underwater habitats within the next few decades. However, even with this solution available to us, it would do well for humanity to halt the rising sea levels as much as possible.

 

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