Living underwater is something that many people have come across thanks to its futuristic portrayal in fiction, movies and video games. Being able to see the beauty of the oceans, surrounded by astounding marine life, is something that might seem impossible for most but the truth is that there are many underwater structures around the world that offer the ability to live, dine or learn, while submerged in the sea.
Over the past century, the advances in engineering and technology have meant that architecture has been able to become even more complex and spectacular than ever before. This means that designers and architects can now come up with extraordinary ideas and execute them, something that would not have been possible until very recently. Another consequence of this is that it is now possible to construct huge structures and impressive facilities in places that have generally been considered inhospitable, such as with underwater buildings.
Of course, underwater structures also come with their own unique challenges. Engineers and architects have to think of ways to solve problems such as possible leaks or damage that could occur due to accidents or natural disasters. They also have to design clever ways of supplying the structures with power and other amenities, as well as solving problems that come with constructing something to withstand the pressure of being surrounded by water. However, the successful underwater structures are just made all the more impressive by the knowledge that these types of hurdles have had to be overcome. This article will look at such buildings and structures, that have defeated those obstacles and ended up being unbelievable feats of construction.
US Submarine Structures is a company that specializes in creating underwater facilities and buildings, usually purpose built for businesses or large companies. However, they are now offering a very particular service that will allow anyone with the money to live in an extravagant underwater home. Known as the H2OME, the building is a surface pressurized house that sits on the seabed at depths of almost 60-feet. The houses contain two floors, over 300 square feet of space, two bedrooms, a lounge, dining room and even special feeding mechanisms to encourage wildlife near the structure to provide a beautiful marine view. Unfortunately, this spectacular home comes at a price of $10 million.
9 Red Sea Star Restaurant / Nymphas Show Bar
Built in Eilat, Israel, the Red Sea Star was an old restaurant, bar and observatory built completely underwater. Those wishing to visit the unique building simply had to cross over a small bridge and descend down a small flight of stairs, allowing you to eat and drink with a distinctive view of the ocean floor. At some point though, it shut down and became a strip club, complete with poles for dancers to work on, but that also didn't work out as the facility was discovered in 2013 by marine biologist Gil Koplovitz, completely abandoned. It’s still unclear exactly when the business closed its doors and why an underwater strip club wasn't a huge success.
8 Jules’ Undersea Lodge
This underwater hotel is the only one of its kind in the United States. Built in the 1970s, the structure was originally a submerged marine lab called La Chalupa and was operated by Ian Koblick. It contains two bedrooms, a bath and some living space, providing a unique experience. Because it is completely underwater, those wishing to stay in the lodge must be PADI certified as they must scuba dive to the building. Also, 24-hour staff can provide a variety of services, including having a chef scuba dive down to prepare a meal or having surprise chocolates or flowers delivered. The lodge also helps to protect the wildlife in the area by acting as an artificial reef, providing a habitat and oxygen for surrounding marine life.
7 Poseidon Undersea Resort
The Poseidon Undersea Resort is another project developed by US Submarine Structures. The initial concept was for it to be the first completely submerged underwater hotel, featuring a restaurant, bar, library, conference and function rooms, along with a spa, swimming pool and even a wedding chapel. Despite having more than 150,000 expressing interest in taking up reservations and the fact that it was supposed to open in 2008, the hotel off the coast of Fiji is still not complete. Despite almost a decade of planning and construction, US Submarine Structures appears no closer to opening the door on their hugely expensive business, even though various sections have reportedly been completed.
6 Ithaa Undersea Restaurant
Located in the Maldives, the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant is one of the only underwater restaurants in the world. Built in 2005 to accompany the nearby hotel, Ithaa was designed by M. J, Murphy and fully completed in 2005. It offers meals for both lunch and dinner, as well as the ability to hire it out as a function room for special occasions, but its biggest attraction is its all glass tunnel-like construction that gives a constant 270° panoramic view of the surrounding marine life. A spiral staircase linked to a jetty provides easy access to the restaurant. Unfortunately, the estimated life of the structure is just 20 years, meaning that by 2025, it will likely be closed.
5 Aquarius Reef Base
The Aquarius Reef Base is an underwater laboratory that sits on the ocean floor some 62 feet below sea level off the coast of Florida. Filled with research equipment and computers, it was built in 1986 and designed to allow marine biologists and other scientists to explore the coral reef and investigate the plant life and animals that live there. What makes the Aquarius Reef Base so special though is that it allows researchers to use a special diving technique known as saturation diving, meaning that they can remain underwater without returning to the surface for extended periods. This allows them to carry out work that they otherwise would not be able to do and reduces the risk of decompression sickness by dipping the number of ascents required.
4 Cancun Underwater Museum
The brainchild of Marine Park Director Jaime Gonzalez Canto and sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, the Cancun Underwater Museum is a collection of more than 400 sculptures resting on the seafloor. The pieces of art, which depict a variety of different themes, are taken to the bottom of the water using a specially designed lift. While the attraction certainly provides something for divers to look at and appreciate when they are underwater, the main aim of the museum was in fact to help promote and protect the coral reefs off the coast of Mexico. As the statues are built with a PH-neutral concrete plant life, algae and coral can all grow on them, helping the artificial reefs to develop and provide the perfect environment for wildlife to return to the area.
3 Sea.Fire.Salt.Sky. Restaurant
Another incredible underwater structure in the Maldives comes in the form of the acclaimed restaurant, Sea.Fire.Salt.Sky. that is made up of four different floors. Each floor has a distinctive theme and atmosphere taken from the name of the restaurant, with the Sky floor located on the roof and the Sea floor underwater. With elegant décor and glass walls showing the ocean wildlife, the restaurant is able to cater for a large number of people. It even comes with its own underwater wine cellar stocked with a collection of high quality bottles.
2 Shanghai Ocean Aquarium
Located in the one of China’s biggest and most popular cities, the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium was designed and built by Advanced Aquarium Technologies. It includes fish and other marine life from all of the major continents and also hosts several rare animals that are unique to China, with the different areas separated off from the others so that they can have their own distinct atmospheres. The highlight, and main part of the aquarium, is a viewing tunnel that stretches almost 400-feet that is entirely underwater, with visitors able to travel through various environments such as a shark cove, kelp cave and a coral reef.
MarineLab is essentially a large underwater facility that acts as a research center for scientists, as well as a classroom for students and teachers. It has been in operation since 1984, making it the longest serving underwater habitat and is located near Jules’ Undersea Lodge. It is in almost continuous use thanks to the fact it can support a small number of people for extended periods and because of its extensive features, such as a wet-room, observation sphere and laboratory. This makes the 30-foot deep structure perfect for educational and research purposes and it has been used by organizations such as NASA in the past.