BY: AYA TSINTZIRAS
A French architect wants to boldly go where very few have gone before: to the bottom of the ocean.
Jacques Rougerie has combined his love for the ocean and architecture to create the SeaOrbiter, a 190-foot tall that is being described as a spaceship that floats on water.
The company’s slogan is “Welcome Onboard Planet Ocean,” and between 18 and 22 members of the crew will board the ship for extended periods of time to discover new forms of life, underwater mountains and microscopic organisms that could aid in the treatment of disease. This is a significant innovation, as the sea is a notoriously difficult place to explore because of visibility issues and pressure.
The floating laboratory project used the crowdfunding site KissKissBankBank to raise $475,000 so far, which will fuel construction until the end of 2014. The overall cost will be $50 million. If successful, the hope is for the ship to be seaworthy by 2016.
The ship is the culmination of over 30 years of Rougerie’s work, which is always informed by sustainable development. Rougerie’s greatest inspiration is the late French poet, playwright and author Jules Verne (considered to be one of the founders of the science fiction genre), most notably Verne’s statement: “Anything man can imagine, another man can make real.” In fact, Verne’s book Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea was published in 1870.
In 2008, Rougerie was elected to the Institut de France Académie des Beaux-Arts. The French government is also funding the project. Also working on the ship is the astronaut Jean-Loup Chrétien.