In a world where the budgets of eccentric developers never fell short of their unrealistic cash-cow fever dreams, the oceans would be teeming with underwater cities. That is not the world we live in, but Japan's Shimizu Corp believes that 15 years from now we'll have the technology to make one possible. Enter the Ocean Spiral, a techno-utopia the company has mocked-up some renderings for, maybe because they really do believe in it, or maybe because they know that this kind of behavior will get them into headlines and attract potential investors. Or maybe both, because their incentive structure makes it impossible for them to tell the difference.
Here's the scheme, as outline in The Guardian: a city of 5,000 people in a glass sphere, with a 10-mile spiraling tail that somehow draws energy from thermal vents and methane-producing micro-organisms on the ocean floor. Don't ask how! Just take it at face value that if this construction firm "gets its way," "Ocean Spiral could be a reality within just a couple of decades." (Take note, aspiring writers of articles publicizing this kind of work and lending it credence through a lack of serious questioning that also creates an exciting "hook" for credulous readers: "could" is the name of your game.)
The Guardian takes this project to Christian Dimmer, an assistant professor in the urban studies department at Tokyo University, who contextualizes it among Japan's unbuilt dream-cities of decades past:
"We had this in Japan in the 1980s, when the same corporations were proposing underground and 'swimming' cities and 1km-high towers as part of the rush to development during the height of the bubble economy. It's good that many creative minds are picking their brains as to how to deal with climate change, rising sea levels and the creation of resilient societies—but I hope we don't forget to think about more open and democratic urban futures in which citizens can take an active role in their creation, rather than being mere passengers in a corporation's sealed vision of utopia." If you like Shimizu's proposal, they would probably love to take your money while the both of you wait for the technology to make Ocean Spiral possible. They might also have a bridge to sell you.
· Ocean Spiral: Japanese firm plans underwater city powered by seabed [The Guardian via Co.Design]