Seaborne High-rise Research Facility to Become a Reality

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Wednesday, December 4th, 2013
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Crowd funding promises to provide a pivotal boost to a new multi-storey scientific research facility that will float semi-submerged on the surface of the ocean.

The SeaOrbiter will be an oceanic research facility measuring a total of 58 metres in vertical height, which will fulfill a multiplicity of scientific functions and fuel its itinerant, scientific undertakings via renewable sources of energy.

According to its designer, French architect Jacques Rougeries, the SeaOrbiter will have “explorative, scientific and educative missions,” and will “offer the opportunity to live on a 24-hour basis at the heart of the oceans.”

The aquiline, sail-shaped structure will be partially submerged, extending 31 metres below the surface of the water and rising to a height of 27 metres in the air. Its total height above and below the water will put its vertical dimensions on par with those of a 18-storey building, while its total displacement will be approximately 2,600 tonnes.

The drifting structure will come equipped with six accommodation levels below the waterline and four below, and will be capable of accommodating 22 people at anyone time.

The SeaOrbiter promises to make a key contribution to oceanic research via multiple roles. It will act as a mobile underwater base which can deploy smaller vessels for deep sea exploration, as well as a scientific platform and laboratory which will provide for continuous analysis of the physical and chemical parameters of open ocean ecosystems.

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In addition to ocean-related research, the SeaOrbiter will serve to further scientific endeavours in an environment at the opposite end of the scale by using underwater living quarters as space simulators which will help astronauts become accustomed to the rigours of pressurized habitats.

The facility will also come equipped with extensive green engineering features, including a vertical wind turbine close to its peak and 350 square metres of solar “skin”  for electricity generation.

While long derided as too outlandish to be see fruition, construction on the towering research facility is now scheduled to commence next year, over a decade after it was first dreamed up by Rougeries.

Key to the final realization of the SeaOrbiter is an online crowd-funding campaign via KissKissBankBank, seeking to raise 350,000 Euros (approximately AU$520,000) to build the watch station and communications control centre which will crown the top of the floating facility and bear the striking title of “The Eye of the SeaOrbiter.”

Rougeries is a veteran designer of underwater habitats, including the Galathee and Hippocampe, and considers the  SeaOrbiter to be the crowning accomplishment of his three-decade career.

“It is the project I care most about, and which is the culmination of all of my research,” Rougeries said.

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