An inundated self-sufficient city, constructed inside-out.
Inspiration from Nature
Fire ants (Solenopsis Invicta) make underwater tunnels and colonies by trapping air particles in a binder.
There is a broader issue at hand followed by a more focused problem. Life on Earth is never entirely safe from threats to its existence. Rising temperatures, thermonuclear war, global epidemic, and machine takeover, etc. are a few such threats. Different space programs have been funded to colonize other planets but they appear to be an escape door for the richest among the rich. What can we do to sustain a global calamity?
A little explored, closest to the pricey escape-to-space program, and potentially the most feasible post-apocalyptic conditions for survival on Earth is underwater. Presently, there have been invented underwater pods, restaurants and but serious research (and investment) needs to be made to inundate an entire city safely. A new architectural paradigm is sought which brings large-scale urban habitat safely underwater.
A number of land organisms have evolved their organs to sustain underwater for a long period of time. But the most relevant solution to this problem is hydrophobicity of fire ants. These tiny architects (Solenopsis Invicta) can build rafts and colonies both on the surface of the water and in it. Their amazing ability to construct inside-out makes their colonies waterproof, systematic, and expandable. They follow mathematical rules in the building process which can be mimicked by mankind.
The conventional methods of underground and underwater construction need to be understood first. Deepest underground mines in the world (please see technology montage) serve as case studies to understand the distribution of loads without columns. Concepts like Otoh Gunga in Star Wars and several design competition entries broaden the horizon for structural possibilities. Underwater sound absorption property of porous aluminum matches the micro-level cross-section of ant’s colony. It turns out that the answer lies in the infinitesimally small details of both material and structure. The building process on land wouldn’t work underwater. An inside-out construction methodology needs to be devised.
The underwater habitat has two major parts (6, 10). An upper part which is a floating disk (9) of solar cells (15) and wave-energy actuators (20). And a lower submerged part which has branched colonies (11, 13) at 90 degrees (like ant colonies). These residential spheres (30) are constructed inside-out using micro blocks (31). These blocks have nano-scale printed texture (41) which allows the distribution of light, sound, and air (35-40). There are channels in the texture which regulate humidity and temperature of the habitat at both compartmental and wholistic level.
The following are some useful resources from the design process of this nature gadget.
Row1Column1: Closeup of an Ant
Row1Column2: Fire Ant Rafts
Row1Column3: Ant Farms
Row2Column1: Deepest Underground Mines World
Row2Column2: Otoh Gunga, Star Wars
Row2Column3: An Example of Underwater Concept Cities
Row2Column4: Underwater Ocean City Plan in Australia
Row3Column1: An Example of Underwater Concept Cities
Row3Column2: Gore-Tex Pro Shell Technology
Row3Column3: Underwater Sound Absorption Property of Porous Aluminium
Row3Column4: Polypropylene Fabric Waterproof
Row4Column1: Description of Integral Waterproofing
Row4Column2: Capture-capture Breakthrough
Row4Column3: An Innovative Technology for Producing Porous Aluminium
Row4Column4: Norway Building World’s First Floating Tunnel
Created by Umair Zia