What Are The Prospects Of Underwater Building Environmental Sciences Essay

Population in Egypt increased in the last 10 years and reached 80 million with average annual growth 2.04%. Traffic congestion is the largest problem that Egypt faces, and it has a great effect on air quality, travelling time, business, and cost. The government always tries to solve the congestion by building new bridges, flyovers and subways, but unfortunately it fails due to the increase of population. In this report there is a study on building with a new technology which is building underwater.

Although underwater buildings exist since 1960 but no one have heard about it. Building underwater will be advantageous to the environment if people succeed in achieving it. Everything can be built underwater like Houses, hotels, spa, restaurants … etc. to let people have a good life or vacation. The glamour view underwater of fishes, coral reefs and different creatures encourages people to build and live there.

This report will discuss the possibility and the advantages of underwater buildings. The first section will define what underwater buildings are, and show the advantages and acceptance of them. The second will discuss the effect of underwater buildings on the environment. The third one will discuss the effect of underwater buildings on social life and the means of transportation. The fourth will discuss the materials used, ways of building and special requirements. The fifth will introduce the problems which face the underwater buildings. The sixth will show the ventilation systems that are used. The seventh, will be examples of existing and upcoming underwater buildings that make the reader able to visualize the idea well, and able to connect all the parts of report together. Finally, the conclusion will support and recommend building and living underwater to decrease congestion and pollution on the surface of the earth.

What are underwater buildings? According to Dr. Khaled Abdelhady (Professor in architecture engineering, Shoubra University), underwater buildings are structures built underwater for different purposes each according to the type of building constructed (personal communication, 2010). It all started in the 1960’s by Jacques Cousteau’s team in the form of underwater research stations (underwater habitat, 2006). Underwater buildings already exist, but have you ever thought about going to an underwater building?

Underwater building is the future foundation that has a great impact on the environment, we will be facing some problems while applying this technology but if we succeed in achieving it, it will be advantageous to our environment as it gets populated. It is true what was written in the “Evolo” magazine: “Approximately 71% of the Earth’s surface is ocean, even more if climate change has its way; hence it is only natural progression that we will populate the seas someday.” (Water-Scraper: Underwater Architecture, 2010).

1.1 Background on underwater building types

When Dr. Khaled Abdelhady was asked about the types of underwater buildings he talked about the following types:

1.1.1 Infra Structures

He said that infra structures are footings of buildings made under the water to let the building itself above the water, for example the bridges connecting cities like the golden gate bridge shown in figure 1.1 when you can see the base of bridge placed under the water (personal communication,2010).


Figure 1.1: Golden gate bridge (source: www.google.com)

1.1.2 Research centers

Second, Dr. Khaled talked about the research centers underwater. He said that there are two types of centers, first is an underwater livings research center which examine and observe creatures underwater, and second there are scientific centers which search for petroleum in the bottom of seas and oceans (personal communication, 2010)

1.1.3 Tunnels

As for underwater tunnels Dr. Khaled Said they are passage ways constructed underwater. There is a type made for internet main cables to be divided all over the world, telephone lines, and others. Other type is made for cars to go through underwater channels but for short distance rivers or water passages like tunnel “Ahmed Hamdi” at the Suez Canal in Egypt (personal communication, 2010).

1.1.4 Museums

As for museums underwater, Dr. Khaled said there are 2 types, first one are museums made to see the underwater livings without having to go through the dangers of diving and for very old adults to be able to see them too, second there are museums made to see the old sunken monuments, why underwater? So that you can see them they exact way they were found in a beautiful creative way. And it has already been constructed like in “Vasa Museum” in Stockholm (personal communication, 2010).

1.1.5 Hotels restaurants and entertainments

Another type that Dr. Khaled Abdelhady talked about was the entertainment types of buildings. There are hotels, spas, and restaurants built underwater so that people could have a nice a vacation, a massage or a meal while watching the fishes and creatures underwater. There are also games made underwater like in Disney land roller coaster as shown in figure 1.2 when you can see people getting into the water while on the roller coaster (personal communication, 2010).manta.jpg

Figure 1.2: Disney land roller coaster (Source: www.google.com)

1.2 Advantage and acceptance of underwater buildings

Underwater buildings have a lot of advantages to people in Egypt. It will lower the crowded places above land. It will increase the technology usage to be able to build it. It will help improve tourism as people will come from all over the world for entertainment under the red sea, and enjoyment of the astonishing numerous kinds of fishes and corals, and in same time conserve the corals from being touched and hurt by people diving.

After asking a large number of people if they would accept going to an underwater city for entertainment, vacation or tourism, it was surprising that most people accepted the idea. This means that if the idea actually gets accomplished, it will be widely spread between people so quickly and it will be successful in Egypt. And as you can see in figure 1.3 the number of people accepting is about triple the number of people refusing.

Figure 1.3: Chart shows the number of the acceptance and refusing people

3. Social aspects

Overcrowding is considered the world’s problem, which is growing constantly and leads to many other problems. This serious dilemma prompted people to think about the colonization of the oceans, which led them to think about the underwater buildings. As we know, water covers 70% of the earth’s surface, while land areas form a very small percentage. Taking a look at the earth from outer space, we will find that the blue color dominates, and this will raise a lot of questions about how to exploit these areas. From this point, people begin to study the possibility of building underwater and make use of such great surfaces.

Let’s find out if people will welcome the idea of living underwater in the future, or it will be a useless project. Due to high cost, these underwater buildings will be limited to a certain level of people, and may be considered as a kind of prosperity. However, if we take into account that the technology advances, so there will be a way to reduce the cost. But if complete cities were built underwater, would people accept such change in their life. Some people cannot live without the sun and do not imagine themselves in a place somewhat isolated. Others want really to try this new life, and enjoy the calmness and the glorious vision. In conclusion, living underwater may become a reality if its benefits overcome its difficulties and problems.

3.1 Means of transportation

After searching for the possible means of transportation to live under water, it was found that there are two possibilities. First, as many people will think, submarines would serve as the main mean of transportation. For example, thinking about its cost and applicability, we will find that it is the suitable one. Let’s move to the other possibility, at a larger scale, and talk about underwater tunnels. There are some existing underwater tunnels, which would be very effective to attain a certain underwater building or complete city in the future. For example, in Dubai, Hydropolis is an underwater hotel, but it is still under construction. As it is described in figure 3.1, the developers of this project explains: “It will include three elements: the land station, where guests will be welcomed, the connecting tunnel, which will transport people by train to the main area of the hotel, and the 220 suites within the submarine leisure complex.”(Joachim Hauser, N.D.).

C:UserspcDesktopHydropolis dubai.jpg

Figure 3.1: The land station of Hydropolis (Source: Design build, ND.)

4. Construction and structure aspects

4.1 The material used

 Although many materials exist for building, the one that meet the requirements with the lowest costs are to be chosen. At this level the cost will be minimized. . When choosing the materials to be used in the construction, it is important to ensure that the weight limit is not exceeded. (Carl T.F. Ross & Mark El-Hajj …)

The main material used for construction underwater was a special type of steel and acrylic. The acrylic material is used mainly for visibility, while the steel is used for reinforcements (supports). (Carl T.F. Ross & Mark El-Hajj …)

High strength steel is used as it is relatively cheap, and has its high yield strength. It is not also a good conductor of electricity and heat. It is a high corrosion resistance. (Carl T.F. Ross & Mark El-Hajj …)

 Acrylic material is used instead of glass; It is better than glass due to being less dense, and it is also has higher impact strength than the glass. Acrylic gives the natural size and colors of the surrounding materials than glass. It is also good insulator of electricity which is good in seeking the health and safety of customers and underwater creatures. (Carl T.F. Ross & Mark El-Hajj …)

4.2 Construction

It is known that the wages for underwater construction would be greater than on land construction, due to the difficulty faced during the working underwater. Another problem would arise; the building is large in size. For solving these problems, they divide the building into parts and building each part on land then assemble them under the water. (Carl T.F. Ross & Mark El-Hajj, ………..)

4.3 Maintenance

The maintenance process is a costly process especially when dealing with an underwater maintenance. The below figure shows us how this problem can be solved, by dividing the building into parts that can be separated from the whole building; these parts can be transferred to land so that a cheaper maintenance can take place. (Carl T.F. Ross & Mark El-Hajj …)

Figure 4.1: The maintenance process (Source: Carl T.F. Ross & Mark El-Hajj)

The transparent part of the building should be always clean, so that the customers can see the marine clearly in all the time. This situation can be achieved by an automated system which uses a self cleaning coating known as the smart material. (Carl T.F. Ross & Mark El-Hajj …)

5 Problem which face underwater building

5.1 Cost

Building under water is a very expensive process due to the machines, instruments and skilled workers. Building under water also contains some of welfare as figures (5.1, 5.2) illustrate and it needs to huge budget.Poseidon

Figure 5.1: Example of under water’s welfare (Source: blog.hotelclub.com/top-five-underwater-hotels/)

“Dreams, however fabulous, remain unfulfilled without the cash to support the commitment; the hardest part of the process was finding sponsorship to the tune of €550m.That’s what brought me to Dubai. Still, it was a battle which took two-and-a-half years and proved tougher than developing the project itself. No bank would pay such an amount. It’s a risky investment, as there are no pilots. We had to convince investors that it is safe and will bring returns on investment.” (Hauser, ND), so companies accept to co-operate with its rival to complete under water building project.

5.2 The problem of Erosion

Erosion is the process of weathering and transport of solids (sediment, soil, rock and other particles) in the natural environment or their source and deposits them elsewhere. It usually occurs due to transport by wind, water, or ice so engineers should choose the appropriate materials for under water building.

5.3 The location of petroleum

Figure 5.2 shows that any accident may happen in the sea to the drilling machines and machinery for searching for oil or to any ship in the sea may harm the design of the building and it is out of control.C:UsersHPDesktoppaste.jpg

Figure 5.2: The accident of the drilling machine (Source: http://Oc-Po/Petroleum-from-the Ocean.htmlhttp://www.waterencyclopedia.com http://www.waterencyclopedia.com http://www.waterencyclopedia.comunderwater-hotels/)

5.4 The problem of heat of water

The temperature of the water is highly variable over the surface of the water, it is heated from the surface downward by sunlight, but at depth most of the water is very cold. (Martha R. Scott, ND)

5.5 The problem of pressure

Pressure plays a big role in influencing the foundations of the building also workers face difficulties either during the construction process or during the maintenance process.

6. Environmental building aspects

No doubt that the first thing that comes in our mind while talking about underwater buildings is the problem of ventilation. Ventilation is defined as a:” process of supplying fresh air to an enclosed space and removing from it air contaminated by odors, gases, or smoke “. Therefore, there must be a source of renewable air that helps in breathing, and getting rid of undesirable gases, like carbon dioxide and others. Let’s explore a solution, for the ventilation problem, that was applied while building Holland tunnel, an underwater tunnel. Tunnels, specifically, have a great problem with ventilation, due to gases produced by trains and automobiles. This problem was addressed by Clifford Holland, the tunnel’s designer. His aim was to find ways to clear exhaust fumes and pump in fresh air, achieving this by using ventilation towers, like the one illustrated in figure 5.1, and fans to move air in and out. Finally, air can be renewed every 90 seconds. (Howstuffworks, ND.)

Figure 6.1: Inside a Holland Tunnel ventilation tower (Source: Eric and Edith Matson, ND.)

The ventilation systems that can be applied while building, can be divided into two methods: natural ventilation and mechanical ventilation. Natural ventilation depends on an open window if the architecture permits, so it cannot be used in underwater buildings. Therefore, mechanical ventilation is applied to ventilate these buildings.

The most important thing is the way to get oxygen needed for breathing. Breathing under water could happen in several ways; such as hydrolyzing the sea water, reversing osmosis, or suctioning methods through air pumps. (Chamberland, ND.). Oxygen can be extracted from seawater since people will live underwater, and it will be a practical method. Reverse osmosis is an effective method used in water treatment; and in the future it will be used to get oxygen, while living underwater. Suctioning oxygen, using air pumps, would help in both getting oxygen and providing good ventilation.

7. Examples

7.1 Dubai Underwater Hotel

It is still under development. The hotel location will be 33 feet underwater. Its total cost is over $550 million. The land station will be connected with the underwater section with a 515 meter long tunnel through which an automatic train will transport people to the underwater hotel. It is 260 hectares area consisted of 220 suits bubble shaped 20 meters underwater.

The hotel will also have several security measures. It has a series of watertight doors in case of any rapture. It will also have its own missile defensive system in case of any terrorist attack.

7.2 UNDERSEA RESORTS- Poseidon Mystery Island

The idea was for the American engineer Bruce Jones. The Poseidon Resort’s Mystery Island shown in figure 7.1 could be reached by elevator. It is a 1.1 million square foot , 40 feet under water. Room standard area is 550 square foot. (wayfaring,2007) .

The budget of the project is $100 million.


Figure 7.1: Poseidon Mystery Island (Source: www.wayfaring.info)

7.3 Ithaa underwater restaurant

It is the 1st of its kind in the world. It is 16 feet below the surface of Indian Ocean. It is encased in clear acrylic.

The ithaa restaurant can be reached by a wooden walkway shown in figure 6.2 from over the water. It was hard to build it on the beach of rangali due to technical challenge, limited resources and quality problems. (Wikipedia, 2010).

It was constructed in Singapore. Its construction began in May 2004, and it was completed in October 2004 including installation of the acrylic arches, air conditioning and electric ducts. Its life span is 20 years.


Figure 7.2: Ithaa underwater restaurant (Source: www. Wikipedia.com)

7.4 Jules Undersea Lodge

It is the world’s first underwater hotel, originally built in the early 1970s. It was opened to the public in 1986. (hotelclub,2007).The entrance to the hotel is 21 feet underwater on the sea floor. The Lodge is fully stocked with compressed air.

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