Check Out Physalia, a Floating Garden Cleaning the Waterways of Europe


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What do you get when you combine a squid, green energy, a garden, a janitor, and a boat? You get the Physalia, a truly unique floating art piece that could help change the world.

Designed by Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut, Physalia was intended as a way to clean Europe’s filthy waterways, all while offering Europeans a gorgeous view of environmental conservation in action. The science here is a bit technical, but basically all you need to know is that Physalia’s hull is coated with titanium dioxide, which absorbs ultraviolet rays in order to encourage the decomposition of toxins in the water. The vessel would also have systems in place that could desalinate surrounding water and destroy any bacteria. It’s basically a gigantic water treatment facility that putters around the rivers of Europe, scrubbing the waterways clean of pollution and converting river water into pristine drinking water.

Physalia Floating Treatment Facility

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And water isn’t the only thing it cleans. The garden on the roof of the structure would soak up carbon dioxide from the air and store in plant life.

What’s not to love? It’s a giant, floating janitor that makes our world a cleaner, brighter place! But unlike giant concrete water treatment facilities or street sweepers, Physalia is actually pleasant to look at.

As important as conservation is, it’s just not a very sexy topic. It’s hard to get people excited about green energy, and a lot of the time, pollution-busting technology is just plain ugly. Physalia has the potential to rally people around the cause of conservationism. I mean, would it bother you if you saw Physalia floating around the waterways near your city? I know it wouldn’t bother me one bit — it’s an absolutely breathtaking design.


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Callebaut drew upon the smooth, slender shape of the Physalia physalis, a jellyfish, as inspiration for his vessel.


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I can kind of see where he’s coming from. There is a definite visual similarity, but if you ask me Physalia (the vessel) looks a bit more like a squid than the jellyfish.


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Well, whatever aquatic species Physalia resembles, this floating garden would beautify Europe’s waterways in every sense of the word: by destroying harmful toxins, by sucking up carbon emissions, by drawing energy from the environment, and by adding a bit more green to the concrete jungle.

It’s easy to use Physalia as inspiration for an aquascaping project, because it offers so much to draw from. I’m not saying that you should build a massive floating water treatment facility in your backyard, obviously — I’m saying that you could take individual elements from Physalia and incorporate them into your aquascape. Why not include a water treatment component that cleans the water? Why not replicate the unique shape of a fish or aquatic invertebrate? Take a page out of Vencent Callebaut’s book and treat the ocean as your muse!


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