Gallery: Star Wars-Inspired Marine Research Facility


Star Wars inspiration and biomimicry combine for the design of the Facility at Sea, a sustainable marine research platform and feat of offshore building engineering. The concept came together in an architecture studio at the University of Texas, which evaluated potential applications of the soaring structural designs of Star Wars for a marine research facility. Designer Jason Mellard took further inspiration from the engineering acumen of Santiago Calatrava and present-day offshore oil platforms.

Taking a cue from the trunk of a tree, the central structural element of the Facility at Sea will serve as its lifeline, providing structure to the building while housing the facility’s mechanical and vertical circulation, including energy storage, waste removal systems, a control and engine room, and emergency generators. The trunk will be surrounded by three main branches, two research spheres, and a “habitation disk” that will not only move up and down vertically but also open and close (weather permitting), literally bringing the clam out of the water.

The research spheres will house laboratories, classrooms, computer labs, viewing platforms, holding tanks, offices, and storage. The “habitat disks” will house sleeping and living areas, including a communal dining and food preparation kitchen, a medical clinic, recreational areas, as well as Star Wars-inspired observation decks and docking platforms.

Much like the International Space Station project, the Facility at Sea will house scientists for 6-12 months periods. Because the clam structure will be airtight when closed, the Facility at Sea will be situated for life both above and under water. Not only will the underwater atmosphere provide an excellent view for marine research, it will serve dual purposes, protecting the Facility at Sea from the sometimes harsh environment above sea level, including storms and extremely windy conditions.

The Facility at Sea would be completely amiss not to take advantage of the surrounding air turbulence. Therefore, the automated shells will harness wind energy through its integrated rotating pinwheel design and solar power through incorporated PV Cells. The natural resources do not stop there – it will also be equipped to generate electricity from the ocean current and use its trunk to attract electricity to the storage batteries during seasonal (and unpredicted) thunderstorms.

+ Via: The American Institute of Architects


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  1. Bucky's Revenge December 8, 2007 at 5:45 am

    Well it’s nice that nearly a century after a centrally cored dwelling/facility such as this was proposed (and I might add thought out much better by the TRUE originator!) that academia finally took notice of the idea. I’m sure Bucky fuller will be happy to know that other people are yet again being praised for HIS originallity. Oh yeah and the way they are proposing to do this is just a bit beyond unrealistic. Bucky at least thought his stuff out. For those of you that want a blue print to sustainable and sane living I would recommend perusing the works of R. Buckminster Fuller rather than the charlattans and pie in the sky ivory tower elitists that are all the rage among The eco aristocracy these days.

  2. Sustainable Design Upda... November 30, 2007 at 11:37 am

    […] Via: Inhabitat […]

  3. Kevin Doan November 30, 2007 at 1:38 am

    Its a fanstatic Design. May be its good in the near future when we have a Fly Car and we could be there for weekend. Imagine…

  4. Brian November 29, 2007 at 8:39 am

    This is nothing more than a pretty picture. You couldn’t even seal these contraptions against the wind much less take them under water. They couldn’t even open in the first place the way they’re drawn. The vertical tracks would be instantly clogged by sea life and mineral deposits. This “designer” obviously doesn’t even have a clue how he would generate power using ocean currents.

  5. Marine Research Facilit... November 29, 2007 at 3:39 am

    […] [AIA via Inhabitat] […]

  6. Marine Research Facilit... November 29, 2007 at 2:27 am

    […] Whether we will ever see this concept come to fruition remains unclear. A major stumbling block would certainly be Mallard’s estimated $500 million to $1 billion price tag. So, unless there is someone out there with really deep pockets and a love for whales/the films of George Lucas, this one will probably remain on the shelf for a while. [AIA via Inhabitat] […]

  7. Jon November 28, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    With global warming, we will already have our own Kamino… lol

  8. Blendor » UT-desi... November 28, 2007 at 11:24 am

    […] pretty sure part of the architectural discussion involved serious considerations, like “Dude – wouldn’t it be so cool?”: Star Wars inspiration and biomimicry combine for the design of the Facility at Sea, a sustainable […]

  9. Gadget News » Sta... November 28, 2007 at 9:40 am

    […] Link [via] […]

  10. GEARFUSE » Star W... November 28, 2007 at 8:58 am

    […] Link [via] […]

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