Known throughout the world for his ground-breaking eco-friendly district and smart city projects, the Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut can’t stop imagining a green and blue future. His leitmotif: to provide solutions to overpopulation, food supply and pollution problems with intelligent, biomimetic constructions.
His latest project, “Aequorea”, features a submarine urban development. This partly submerged town would be built with 269,000 tons of plastic waste floating on the breadth of the North Pacific. A real seventh continent that, mixed with algae, could provide a new raw material, Algoplast, for building the towns of the future, on and under the oceans.
Scheduled for 2050, this town could in the long term have 250 submarine storeys, going down to 1,000 metres. Designed to grow naturally by calcification, Aequorea could house 20,000 inhabitants and be totally self-sufficient thanks to hydraulic energy, greenhouses and community organic farming fields.
It’s form draws inspiration from a luminescent jellyfish, which, “has articulated, webbed tentacles that enable it to swim and keep itself stable“, the architect says. Like the jellyfish, the town will have its own “tentacles”. While limiting pitching, they make their own energy and their double-glazing incorporates luminous proteins. The energy from the seas’ currents and its thermal energy are also harnessed.
With global warming, the sea is overflowing. Why not live there? Today more and more researchers and entrepreneurs are betting on it. In Dubaï, in the Maldives, projects are jostling for position. “I’m sometimes taken for a visionary in this,” the architect admits. “My proposals are radical and can throw people off, but contrary to what they may think, they are based on a pragmatic approach, backed up by top researchers and engineers.” Algoplast’s feasibility is indeed currently being studied in a laboratory in Berkeley (California) and “Breton industrial firms already use algae for packaging”, says the ambitious builder who has just delivered a feasibility study to transform the Botanic Center, in the centre of Brussels. He plans to install a solar farm there in the shape of a cocoon, capable of producing electricity for its users.