As our world progresses, we are starting to see things that many in the past never even deemed possible. Architecture has come a long way too. We are now able to build things both above the surface of the earth, as well as below. An interesting example of the latter is underwater buildings!
For World Maritime Day, we’ve compiled a list of 7 of the most amazing underwater buildings that our society has developed over the past few decades.
Take a look at these astounding, beautiful, and remarkable pieces of construction and architecture.
Coral Greenhouse, Great Barrier Reef Australia
Created as part of the Museum of Underwater Art, this impressive concrete and steel Coral Greenhouse is positioned in an inlet of the natural reef, is full of sculptures of trees and people and aims to educate society about the Great Barrier Reef, which is under threat.
Weighing 165 tonnes, the skeletal structure is anchored to the sandy bottom by its heavy base and has integrated cyclone tethers to protect it during storms. Its triangular structure is designed to give it a low centre of gravity. Instead of glass, water fills the space between the ribs of the underwater building. Spire-shaped elements attached with zinc anodes to the apex of the roof oscillate in the waves.
Small fish can escape predators by hiding in the gaps of gridded elements, and there are niches for octopuses and sea urchins to hide in.
"The design of the greenhouse is biomorphic. Its form determined by the forces of nature," said DeCaires Taylor. "As the Coral Greenhouse is slowly colonised and built upon by the reef, it will be gradually absorbed into its surroundings."
Manta Resort, Pemba Island, Tanzania
Off the coast of Tanzania, you can find a one-of-a-kind undersea suite called the Manta Resort. The top part of the structure is a floating platform, while the bottom delves beneath sea level. It was constructed off-site and then towed and anchored into place.
Here, you can enjoy a fantastic, private getaway complete with room service. The bedroom lies beneath the surface of the sea, while the living area is on the platform. This allows the guests of the Manta Resort the opportunity to enjoy both the sun and the sea.
Atlantis Hotel, The Palm, Dubai
The Palm in Dubai is famous for a number of different architectural feats, and the Atlantis Hotel is arguably one of its most impressive. With an underwater suite situated 20 feet below sea level, this structure may have been built through the use of cofferdams (a watertight, drained enclosure in the sea).
Here, guests can enjoy suites situated either above or below sea level. Guests take an elevator to their underwater suites, where they can enjoy beautiful views of sea life surrounding their rooms.
Jules’ Undersea Lodge, Key Largo, Florida
Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Florida is the only underwater hotel in the United States. Formerly a research laboratory, it was built in the early 1970s and is completely submerged underwater.
This amazing piece of architecture is one of the oldest of its kind. Today, people can enjoy a once in a lifetime experience by venturing below the surface of the sea an enjoy an unconventional view. To reach it, the lodge offers scuba diving courses.
As the entire construction is underwater, compressed air fills the lodge so that it doesn’t flood. Its entrance is a pool through which divers surface into the wet room.
Subsix, Niyama Island, Maldives
Another incredibly memorable way to spend time underwater is to go to the Subsix nightclub in the Maldives. Subsix is the world’s first and only underwater nightclub. Builders constructed the structure off-site and then lowered it in place.
Its complex construction gives way to a stunning piece of architecture, where guests can enjoy a night of dancing, drinking, and socializing in an extremely unconventional setting. Because it lies offshore, you can only access it by boat.
The Transbay Tube, between San Francisco and Oakland, California
The wonders of underwater construction are not limited to locations where people can enjoy a night out or lodging. There is also the Transbay Tube - an underwater rail tunnel that links San Francisco and Oakland. It was constructed in 1974 using the ‘immersed tunnel’ technique.
The contractors built its 57 components off site, and then transported them by a barge to where they needed to sink them. They then lowered each component into place and sent divers down 135 feet below sea level to connect the pieces together. There are even plans in motion to create a new Transbay tube.
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Maldives
If you’re looking to experience underwater life for a shorter period of time, Ithaa Undersea Restaurant in the Maldives is a top choice. Builders constructed this stunning restaurant off-site and then lowered it from a barge onto its foundations.
Access to the undersea restaurant is through a shaft on the surface of the water. There is limited seating, allowing its guests to enjoy a more intimate setting - all the while enjoying the panoramic views of the marine life that this part of the Maldives boasts.
From the above list of some of our planet’s most amazing pieces of underwater construction, it is clear that our society has come a long way. What’s more, there are dozens of plans in place for new and exciting underwater buildings - and even cities!
We don’t know how far away these plans are from coming to fruition, but there is one thing we know for sure: the future holds exciting new prospects for the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry.