Gallery: Reclaiming Oil Rigs as Oceanic Eco-Resorts

Rig Resort

Morris Architects, a Houston-based architecture and design firm, recently took top honors for two of their submissions in the Radical Innovation in Hospitality design competition. The grand prize winner, the Oil Rig Platform Resort and Spa makes use of one of 4,000 oil rigs out in the Gulf of Mexico and transforms it into a luxurious eco-resort and spa. We love how the inspired renovation takes an iconic source of dirty energy and converts it to an eco-haven that generates all of its power from renewable sources.

Sponsored by the John Hardy Group and Hospitality Design Magazine, the international design competition focused on innovations in hospitality. The Morris design team wanted to take advantage of the an abandoned oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico and reuse the structure, transforming it into a vibrant and commercially viable destination. The luxury resort offers many amenities including interaction with the surrounding ocean – boating, snorkeling, diving and other water sports. The Rig Hotel will also draw in conferences and business meetings, and will serve as a cruise ship’s main port of call en route to other locations in Mexico and the Caribbean.

Situated in the middle of the ocean, the Rig Hotel will need to be as autonomous as possible, generating all of it’s own power from renewable energy, most notably via a large vertical axis wind turbine affixed to one of its foundation towers. Wind power tends to be far more efficient off-shore than on-shore, and the turbine will meet a significant portion of the Rig’s energy demands. Wave energy generators will be buoyed nearby with undersea cables to transmit the power. Solar panels will be affixed on the sides and top of the rig. Additionally, geothermal heat pumps will take advantage of the consistent water temperatures at lower sea levels to aid with heating and cooling of the interior rooms. All of these power systems can easily be integrated into the existing rig infrastructure.

The Oil Rig Resort and Spa will provide unparalleled views of the Gulf through patron’s rooms as well as a glass lobby floor. The lobby will be naturally lit with ambient light, which will be reflect the ocean. A central core will be filled with water, which acts as a ballast to help stabilize the platform during stormy conditions. This central core will also host theatrical performances much like the Cirque du Soliel show ‘O’ in Las Vegas. Guests will be able to view the show from their own room every night.

Individual guest rooms are prefabricated off site and transported via ship in a standard cargo container to the rig. The rooms are not large and have been optimized to maximize space. Couches turn into beds at night and can be moved over the hot tub for viewing of performances. The room can also extend out over the water for better views of the Gulf. The eco-resort provides a state-of-the-art luxury accomodations, as well as sea-water swimming facilities, a grand ballroom shopping, dining, nightly entertainment, a casino, and boat slips. And considering that there are over 4,000 oil platforms out there in the Gulf, it’s certainly a novel way to reuse the existing structures.

+ Morris Architects

Via Bustler


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  1. Fantine June 1, 2011 at 10:06 am

    You’re the one with the birans here. I’m watching for your posts.

  2. Marilee May 31, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    That’s more than sesnible! That’s a great post!

  3. adarsh November 27, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Great idea, Can sell this inventory at

    What about safty here?


  4. T.Koble November 9, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    This could be the new destination for cruise ships! They could supply the resort themselves.
    This idea is really cool.
    The idea of underwater structures!
    With 5 or more cruise ships the hotel quest that are already there and who could stay overnight from the cruise ship would have a great view! Keep thinking and take everyones ideas and you can make it the new VEGAS!

  5. cswiggie February 25, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    well we might as well learn to embrace living/resorting on the ocean, so that we’re ready for ‘waterworld’ when it comes

  6. ckarliss February 24, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    As I read Steffen’s entry and the proposal of a hotel in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico I found that the idea of casually sailing past this “eco-hotel” is almost more interesting than actually occupying it. However, the idea of habituating and reusing an abandoned oil-rig is stimulating and promotes discussion similar to BLDGBLOG’s post on “Infrastructure Domesticity.” If we turn oil rigs, items that have previously been labeled icons of waste and dirty energy, into beneficial objects that promote healthy living, the project has the potential to successfully create a new image for oil rigs. Moreover, this may be a catalyst for future projects that will attempt to turn oil mines and other forms of “dirty” energy into housing or clean energy producers. This type of innovation will be absolutely critical for our future. Certainly, the eco-hotel combines different technologies in exhilarating and inventive ways. For example, the “large vertical axis wind turbines” prove to be an original concept that enhances alternative energy concepts. As mentioned in the article, offshore turbines are more promising than onshore; thus, the hotel should study offshore wind farms such as the one being proposed off of Cape Cod, because this possibility could provide enough energy necessary for the transportation of necessary materials that are involved in constructing or running a luxury resort in the middle of an ocean. Of course, her idea is conceptual in its nature, and perhaps seems ultimately unrealistic given the deteriorating state of the economy. Currently, construction has come to a halt and such an expensive project may not be possible for copious amounts of time. Furthermore, the Gulf Cost has recently been utterly ravished by monstrous hurricanes, such as Hurricane Katrina and Rita. These hurricanes conjure images of complete devastation that dramatically contrast to the promotion of the eco-hotel as luxurious and beautiful. However if during these storms the entire hotel could convert to take full advantage of the huge amount of energy present, this transformation could become a very interesting idea in how the hotel reacts in mild and extreme weather.

  7. shubh February 22, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    It is indeed an example of dedicated collective efforts and advancement of technology. What else could be alternate best use of oil rigs? It will certainly give new experience to the visitors. Congratulation to Morris Architects for this achievement.
    Advisor travel.justluxe

  8. zombiejellyfish February 20, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    OMG! Instead of doing a ‘murder mystery’ weekend getaway you use this rig as the lair of a Bond villain with an espionage weekend!

    Totally awesome.

  9. kenji February 20, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Looking at this concept the first thing that comes to mind is ‘cabin fever’. This is far too compact to be comfortable as a resort; ie no beaches, small cabins like a cruise ship, no ‘view’ other than miles of empty ocean. Keep in mind that oil rigs are generally placed in remote and not so ideal locations. I wouldn’t pay to stay at a place like this, nevermind that I would probably need to own a boat to get there.

    Additionally, supplying a resort uses massive resources and all but maybe some fresh veggies/herbs grown on site would need to be transported out there, all by boat. Sorry but that does not spell green to me. Calling this an ‘eco-resort’ is a joke.

    I’m all for adaptive reuse but this is not the right thing to do with old oil rigs. I’m for turning oil rigs into tidal and wind powerplants.

  10. John E. Fidler February 20, 2009 at 8:10 am

    You have just re-fined my OLD idea that I still have sculptures of from High School in 1970! So, that must mean others see the beautiful potential. Great! I’d include veg. gardens (cascading) the with a large de-salination operation.

  11. Jeremy February 20, 2009 at 5:25 am

    Funny to see the James Bond poster on the wall – I was just thinking how it looked like a bond-villain’s lair.

  12. earthsmile February 20, 2009 at 4:28 am

    Add a subterranean element as well. Have part of the structure be underwater so that marine life can be viewed. Also, offer mini-submarine trips as well. Incorporate satellite barges that are floating greenhouses for food., and another satellite barge for a NanoSolar power plant. Also… double the size of the rooms. A single shipping container is not going to work, even as it gets extended.

  13. limyc February 19, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    you could even grow veggies on one of its decks and this would reduce the carbon footprint.

  14. limyc February 19, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    you even have a veggie garden on board and this would reduce the carbon footprint.

  15. fritter February 19, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    This is very cool, they need to couple it with the designs for shipping containers as moveable apartments, Then the units would be interchangeable. Employees could easily move between resorts, and those in the city that want a longer stay could move their units from the city.

  16. elepski February 19, 2009 at 8:21 am

    Quite cool… i think this could also be a good way of starting private wind/tidal energy farms too.. ether by converting platforms directly or as a secondary effect of the resort.

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