As global populations continue to rise at an alarming rate, we’re forced to start thinking about how to accommodate everyone when we start to run out of land on our little planet. Thinking outside the box seems to be the only way to go, and a few interesting ideas have been proposed in the past, such as giant floating cities and colonizing Mars. Now, a Japanese construction company, Shimizu Corp, has come up with another innovative plan for future living: an underwater metropolis, powered by energy from the seabed.
Their futuristic, Atlantis-style city, “Ocean Spiral,” is designed to accommodate 5,000 people. They will live in houses located within a giant sphere, 500 meters (1,500 feet) in diameter, which will sit just beneath the surface of the ocean. Alongside residential areas, the globe will contain hotels and commercial complexes.
This structure will be connected to a 15 kilometer (9 mile) long path that winds through the sea towards a building located on the ocean floor, some 4,000 meters below the surface. This “Earth Factory” would serve as a hub for scientists to mine natural resources such as copper and zinc, and to examine possible ways to extract energy resources from the seabed.
The idea is to be as green as possible, so the scientists envisage using microbes called methanogens to convert CO2 captured from the surface into methane, which will serve as a major source of power. A string of generators on the spiral will also create energy using differences in seawater temperatures, a process known as ocean thermal energy conversion. The city will also be equipped with fish farms for food and a desalination plant for drinking water.
This city may sound like nothing more than an architect’s imagination gone wild, but Shimizu think it’s possible. Using the collective brainpower of experts from Tokyo University, government ministries and energy firms, Shimizu are already working towards turning their designs into reality. They think that the technology needed to kickstart construction will be ready within the next 15 years, and that the whole thing would take just five years to erect. But it won’t come cheap, and has a hefty price tag of three trillion yen ($25 billion), which Shimizu hopes to bring in from the government and private industry.
“This is a real goal, not a pipe dream,” Shimizu spokesman Hideo Imamura told The Guardian. “The Astro Boy cartoon character had a mobile phone long before they were actually invented—in the same way, the technology and knowhow we need for this project will become available.”