Finalist 2022

Mantaverse

Xi Chen / Xuye Zhang / Nic Bao (supervisor), RMIT University, School of Architecture and Urban Design

Floating Architecture, Coral Reef, Metaverse, Maritime Utopia, Manta Ray, Biomimetic Design, Theme Park

“Mantaverse” – an offshore architecture with the floating infrastructure and underwater artificial reefs. The project is proposed to create an iconic architectural form and a world of marine utopia. The building allows visitors to enjoy the beautiful shores and entertainment while admiring the marine life and underwater coral and reefs. It is inspired by manta rays, an endangered fish that lives in coral reef areas. Multiple awnings erected on the water use a bionic method to simulate the scene of the school of mantas jumping out of the water, calling on the protection of marine ecology in a more vivid way.

Design Brief:

The earth's oceans are extremely rich in resources and are the cradle of life. In the case of overpopulation, how to develop the marine economy, rationally exploit and utilize the earth's marine resources, and expand the living space of human beings has become an important issue for human beings once and for all.

The floating building on the sea can give full play to the potential of various marine resources and comprehensively use various advanced technologies to realize the self-sufficient operation of the urban system, which will break the fixed mode of maintaining the operation of living space mainly through land resources in the past. However, floating structures are destined to have an impact on the surrounding marine environment, especially coral reefs. Therefore, how to protect and coexist is also the issues we try to solve.


This project was developed by:

  • Xi Chen - RMIT University, School of Architecture and Urban Design
  • Xuye Zhang - RMIT University, School of Architecture and Urban Design
  • Supervisor: Dr Nic Bao - RMIT University, School of Architecture and Urban Design

Design Process

  • Inspiration Mantaverse is a new word that combines Manta and Verse. The verse means universe, and manta is an important fish in the marine ecosystem. The name is a variant of the metaverse, that represents the future of information technology, we hope that the architectural form of Mantaverse can become a future development trajectory of architecture, that is, architecture is no longer limited to land, instead it can live on water and contribute to the nature.
  • Site Heron Island is located at the southern tip of Australia's 2,050-kilometer-long Great Barrier Reef. The project is on the southwest side of Heron Island. High seasonal cyclonic activity is typical of the marine region.
  • Biomimetic – Manta Shape We imitated the shape and dynamics of the manta by means of bionics, create a series of forms, then arranged and combined these basic models, and solidify them.
  • Biomimetic – Coral Morphologic We look for inspiration from reef-building corals. First, we extract the basic skeleton of coral bodies, and then generate a porous structure by duplicating and linking the skeleton, and the texture of the surface is also related to the texture of the coral itself, the porous structure is good for coral growth and crated more hiding places for fish, and the flow of water through these holes can speed up the flow rate, which brings more microorganisms to feed the coral.
  • Tidal power system The building has its own power supply system, and the underwater part cleverly uses the energy of tidal ocean currents to generate electricity for the entire building.
  • Giving detail function according to the overall function splitting A floating architecture includes theme parks, marine exhibition halls, diving shops and walking areas above the water, while undersea restaurants, undersea theatres, underwater experience areas and artificial coral reefs.

Design Excellence

Functionally, the offshore architecture consists of parts on and under the water, respectively floating infrastructure, and underwater artificial coral reefs. On the water, there are theme parks, marine exhibition halls, diving shops and pedestrian areas. Below the sea level, there are underwater restaurants, underwater theatres, underwater experience areas and artificial coral reefs. Visitors can experience marine amusements while visiting marine-themed exhibitions. Make the place a very attractive and accessible place for tourists of all ages.

We imitated the shape and dynamics of the manta by means of bionics, create a series of basic forms, then arranged and combined these basic models, and solidify them, and finally connected each awning to each other to simulate the scene of the school of mantas jumping out of the water, calling on the protection of Marine ecology in a more vivid way. In addition to the awning of the outdoor space, other parts of the building, such as the wings, also mimic the overall shape and streamlined form of the manta. The entrance and dock of the building mimic the shape of the manta's mouth and head, and the awning on the corridor from the indoor area to the outdoor water park mimics the gills of the manta.

From a sustainable point of view, since the floating building is far away from the surrounding islands and land, the building has its own power supply system, and the underwater part cleverly uses the energy of tidal currents to generate electricity for the entire building.

Design Innovation

The rapid development of urbanization and the growing population have led to a shortage of space for human habitation and offices; global warming has caused sea levels to rise, and some coastal cities may gradually be swallowed by sea water in the future; summer floods will also bring damage to residential areas in many areas. There are fewer habitable sites on land. The floating building on the water can effectively solve these problems, which will be a new form of human living environment in the future.

During the design process, we found that the floating building is far away from the surrounding islands. Therefore, the problem of power supply has become a problem that the project needs to solve. Therefore, the building needs to have its own power supply system, and the underwater part cleverly uses the energy of the current to generate electricity for the entire building. Oceanic here currents reflect the bifurcation of the several currents and jets of the South Equatorial Current, and the formation of the resulting northwards-flowing Hiri Current and the southwards-flowing East Australian Current. The building will use ocean currents to generate tidal energy, thereby providing electricity for floating buildings. Adhere to the construction of sustainable buildings.

Design Impact

Global warming has caused the sea level to rise, reducing our land area. Some cities are near or even surrounded by water and are plagued by floods all year round. Therefore, we must solve these problems and ensure the living environment of human beings. Faced with the problem of tight land area and shortage of population living places, it can be solved by extending the height of the building upward or developing the underground space downward, but this will increase the density of the population, and may deteriorate the urban environment, and will also bring people a sense of oppression.

About 70% of the earth, we live in is oceans, lakes, rivers, etc. The ocean area is much larger than the land area. Some areas near the coastline and inland waters are generally rich in resources. The development and utilization of floating buildings on the water are feasible and economical. Compared with other solutions, it is more suitable to develop marine space resources. A floating foundation that can adapt to the fluidity of the floating building on the water is adopted, and the orientation and position of the building are adjusted by using external factors such as wind direction and sunshine, to avoid unfavourable conditions in the natural environment and achieve the best use state.

The floating building on the water not only realizes all the functions of the land-based building, but also it can be moved relatively easily, and its position can be changed only by pushing and pulling. Whether it is the design concept, function, material, and technology, it has essential changes compared with land-based buildings.

For this project, we want to call on everyone to protect the marine ecological environment, protect corals and marine species, and create a real marine utopia through marine-themed exhibitions.

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