Every once in a while you hear someone mention some hair-brained scheme to colonize the moon or Mars. It’s an admirable goal, but in all likelihood we’re going to colonize the ocean much sooner than any serious attempts are made to colonize the moon. I mean, why spend billions figuring out how to grow wheat on another planet when there are millions of acres of unclaimed real estate right next to us?
We’ve seen plenty of ideas for floating cities and apartment complexes, but going for an aquatic alternative to housing can really only get you so far. Unless the inhabitants are planning on surviving on nothing more than fish, seaweed, and good intentions, they’re going to need some serious help from their terrestrial neighbors. And at that point, it’s almost not worth going for floating structures at all.
In order to create a sustainable aquatic living area, you need to have a way to generate food. For that, you need to create floating farms, and floating farms open up a whole new world of possibility compared to the traditional amber fields of grain.
Australian Architect Ruwan Fernando submitted a vertical farm skyscraper into the eVolo Skyscraper competition as a possible solution to the food demands of aquatic buildings. Rather than creating a wide platform to serve as a replica field, Ruwan went with a slightly more vertical approach. His skeletal tower uses U-shaped rings, which work as anchors for plants or even living quarters. A series of bridges connect the rings together so that workers can maintain the rings and harvest crops.
Plants would sit in these rings and collect sunlight almost as easily as if they were in a field. The only disadvantage here is that sunlight would be just a tad scarcer; a host of other benefits would far outweigh that. Turbines on the bottom of the tower could harvest tidal energy to help make the tower more sustainable, and filters would clean salt water to water the crops. These towers would enable aquatic civilizations to harvest crops with only a fraction of the resources and “land” of conventional fields. If we ever do truly take steps to create aquatic cities, then buildings like Ruwan’s vertical farm will almost necessarily need to be incorporated into these new aquatic metropolises.