Revolutionary manta ray-shaped floating city envisioned to be university of the future

Words by Isabelle Pinto

Photography by Foundation Jacques Rougerie

PrintA whole city floating on water is something one could only see in their wildest dream or imagination. But with French architect, Jacques Rougerie of the I nstitut de France – Academy of Fine Arts, big and revolutionary visions like this may just come true. Known for his successful track record as well as radical design of the SeaOrbiter, a skyscraper-tall, floating research laboratory which is currently under construction, Rougerie’s vision of a floating city called the City of Meriens may just become a reality in the not too distant future.

The city of Meriens, which roughly translates as “the city of oceanites”, is a gigantic oceanic vessel which can take up to 7,000 residents. It is meant to be an International Oceanic University dedicated to long-term studies on marine biodiversity. The vessel would be home to researchers, teachers, students, observers and essentially anyone who is passionate about the ocean. “People would come [from] all over the world – it’s an international city governed by United Nations standards,” explains Rougerie. “The City of Meriens is open for all the countries of the world, so each nation could have access to the ocean’s scientific resources,” he adds.

Self-sustaining design inspired by nature itself

Spanning 900 metres long and 500 metres wide, the oceanic university city is a bionic and biomimetic concept creatively shaped like a huge manta ray with its wide wings and long tail. It extends 60 metres in height above sea level with another 120 metres beneath the ocean, allowing residents to be truly in touch with the underwater world. Designed to be self-sustaining and fully autonomous, the structure will be powered by renewable marine energy. Besides that, it also employs the principles of sustainable development with its zero waste programme. As for food supply for its residents, integrated aquaculture breeding farms and hydroponic greenhouses will provide them with the necessary sustenance.

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