The world’s largest underwater research laboratory is going to be built near the island of Curacao in the southern Caribbean in three years. It will be designed to explore the ocean.
The sketch was presented by aquanaut Fabienne Cousteau and industrial designer Yves Béhar. According to their idea, the Proteus station will be modular, its area will be almost 400 square meters. It is supposed to be both a laboratory and a home for ocean scientists and climate scientists. It can accommodate up to 12 people. Particular attention in the project was paid to seating areas and the design of windows to let in as much light as possible into the room.
According to the authors, “Proteus” will become the deep-sea International Space Station, where government agencies, educational institutions, and entrepreneurs from all over the world can cooperate. “Ocean exploration is 1,000 times more important than space exploration for our survival and future,” says Cousteau. “He is our life support system and the reason we exist in the first place”.
The two-story building will stand on stilts, and the protruding capsules will house laboratories, living quarters, medical rooms, and a pool through which divers can enter the ocean. It will also have an underwater greenhouse. The building will operate on wind and solar energy, as well as thermal energy from the ocean.
“We’ve been working on a lot of small living spaces and robotic furniture for tiny apartments lately,” Behar said. – So I think we understand well how to design a compact but comfortable space. However, the underwater environment is completely different. ” The authors wanted to create an unusual and futuristic design that would reflect the ocean and underwater life. According to them, when developing the project, they were inspired by the appearance of coral polyps.
Submarine stations allow scientists to dive into the ocean at any time of the day without requiring a lot of decompression time. Like astronauts in space, researchers can stay underwater for days or weeks. Today there is only one station of this type – “Aquarius” – located under the Florida Keys in the southeastern United States. Others, such as the experimental SEALAB I, II, and III, created by NASA, were built for single missions.
While Proteus is at the development stage, it will take about three years to build and install, although, according to the authors, the pandemic has already shifted their schedule. The creators of the project are confident that objects located in different oceans can warn of tsunamis and hurricanes. They could also serve as research platforms for energy and robotics.