Gallery: Underwater Ocean City for a Future Australia

'aquatown', NH architecture with andrew mackenzie

Ocean City by Arup Biomimetics

Forty years from now, Australia, as well as the rest of the world, could look dramatically different — possibly even underwater, like this ‘Ocean City’ concept by Arup Biomimetics. Dubbed Syph, the proposed underwater city, results when land begins to disappear and the value of what remains sky-rockets, and people are unable to afford living on land. Syph evolves into a collection of organisms with specialized functions like energy generation and sustainable food production that work together to form a new underwater city. Ocean City is just one of many designs in a competition to design Australia’s future as part of the “Now + When Australian Urbanism Exhibition“.

Loop-Pool/Saturation City by Mc Gauran Gianni Soon (MGS), Bild + Dyskors and Material Thinking

As part of the 2010 Venice Beinnale, the Australian Pavilion is showcasing a series of designs that envision Australia 40 years or more from now. Designers were asked to think beyond our current situation and image what life could be like, given the context of global climate change, strains on natural resources, and evolving mentalities. Over 120 entries were submitted, and 17 of them will be showcased in the Australia Pavilion during the Biennale. Visitors will have a chance to view the concepts using 3d stereoscopic technology, which allows the visitors to move around these urban scenes and experience the new worlds from different perspectives.

Aquatown by NH architecture with Andrew Mackenzie

Many of the concepts anticipate a changed climate — one with higher ocean levels that will necessitate new architecture and transportation networks. Other concepts like the ‘Fear Free City’ are centered around a world where there is no longer fear or antisocial behavior. All the amenities are close by within walking distance, and no one has to commute, allowing people more recreational time. The ‘Island Proposition 2100′ anticipates a world that is hyper-connected via maglev technology, which limits urban sprawl and increases efficiency. Many more concepts will be on display starting August 29th through November 21st in Venice.

+ 2010 Venice Biennale

Via Designboom


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  1. Chris Cully November 3, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    As amazing and aspirational as this potentially is, have you ever heard of a game called Brink? If shit in this scenario doesn’t hit the myriad of fans that could ruin such an ideal habitat, there is always the possibility that the self encapsulated utopian society becomes completely detached from the rest of the world…only connected by the internet (not unlike how people communicate in Wall-E).

    Saying that, I would be the first to live on and in such a place…I’m still excited about the underground eco-city, Masdar.

  2. penquista1 July 29, 2014 at 7:46 am


    there is an electronic track inspired by this underwater city

  3. Princess Bloom December 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm


  4. bubble July 30, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    this is something i would really like to see and possibly live in. I wonder how would this effect sea life.

  5. Sub Biosphere 2: A Self... June 16, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    […] unique underwater habitat is designed to sustain all of its life support systems — air, water, food, electricity, and […]

  6. eco-panda April 11, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    i like this idea of a underwater city, i think its kinda cool. but it would cost alot of money if other countries as well are going to do this, especially poor countries who are strugglng anyway. plus how are we as humans going to adabt to a unerwater life style? either way good idea i myslef would like to try that 😀

  7. Eric Hunting April 8, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    I particularly like the Island Proposition 2100, which I think would merge nicely with the AquaTown concept. This is how I imagine an ideal urban land and near-shore habitat where civilization has consciously decided to give nature her space and gain unexpected lifestyle convenience and a million dollar back yard view for every home as a bonus. The idea of the Linear City -an urban habitat built within a lofted transit conduit- was one of Paulo Soleri’s most underrated yet most important of arcology concepts. Soleri himself seems to have largely ignored it even though he noted its importance as the largest volume habitat in his arcology vision. People focus on the giant megastructures, but the real model of the arcology habitat was a network of linear cities -much smaller in sectional scale but spanning thousands of miles- along a small number of select high-bandwidth transit routes replacing most of the built habitat with the towering megastructures serving only as nodal communities where these routes cross. Linear cities are, in fact, no particular engineering challenge and as that island Proposition 2100 shows would still allow for an infinite variety in design expression and space use. Imagine a world where we willingly restricted all human habitation to within 1/4 mile of a few exclusively electric interstate highway, PRT, or rail routes and returned all that space to nature. This is the actual arcology habitat vision most people miss. Unfortunately, Soleri’s ego seems to have demanded his focus on grandiose monuments rather than the living and evolving urban habitats the linear cities, owing to their incremental construction, would be by default. You can’t dictate the evolution of structures that grow over centuries and can be spontaneously adapted by their inhabitants so he wasn’t interested in exploring the concept in detail. Its good to see that some contemporary designers -perhaps with some of Constant Nieuwenhuys’ sensibilities- are picking up where he left off on this concept.

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