The Open_Sailing Project
Drifting villages, or what the Apocalypse has to do with your social life.
By Maria Popova
Here’s a little-thought-about fact: Oceans cover 71% of Earth’s surface, yet 6.7 billion of us cram into the other 29%, elbowing our way through pollution, overpopulation and various other delights of contemporary civilization.
Enter Open_Sailing, a visionary initiative pioneering an entirely new form of marine architecture.
The project aims to reinvent our habitat by designing a sustainable, technologically sound sea-based lifestyle, shielded from potential natural and man-induced disasters. An “International Ocean Station” to the International Space Station, if you will.
In practical terms, this translates into a drifting, inflatable “village” of modular shelters surrounded by ocean farming units and energy pods. All components are fully flexible — fluid, pre-broken, reconfigurable, pluggable and intuitive — and powered by innovative technologies that maximize energy efficiency and ensure a sustainable, self-sufficient model.
Initiated by Royal College of Art designer Cesar Harada, the project has drawn an international, multidisciplinary team of 15 designers and engineers working under the mentorship of various marine experts.
We want to live at sea. And we want to do it well: comfortably, sustainably and safely. We want delicious food, a great social life, space to work and play. We’ve come together; a diverse team from all walks of life to design our future on the ocean. With our combined skills, we’re pioneering innovative architecture, navigation and sea farming techniques.
The first Open_Sailing prototype is 50 meters in diameter and fits 4 people. An inaugural test will set sail from London to Rotterdam, and results will be available in July.
While the project is very conceptual, the vision behind it is firmly grounded in reality (we’re underutilizing our natural habitat and overexploiting the parts we are using), urgency (where do we go next?) and visionary problem-solving — and that we can appreciate. With the right tools, thinkers and technologies, we think Open_Sailing can change the world — literally.
Published June 30, 2009