Just recently, we looked at Seaventures Resort, an old oil rig that had been refitted to accommodate scuba enthusiasts. Seaventures is a smart example of efficient recycling. Why spend more to build a floating hotel from scratch when you can just reuse something that’s already there?
Designers Ku Yee Kee and Hor Sue-Wern are also exploring the potential of off sea oil rigs. They’re envisioning ways to completely refit old, abandoned oil rigs to transform them into bustling living centers that can permanently host inhabitants.
Their design features staggered layers of outward jutting living units, all surrounding a central recreational and community center. This layout is an extremely efficient use of space, which is crucial for such a small community.
With sustainability features, such as wind turbines and tidal energy generators, oil rig communities such as these could remain fairly sustainable and successfully support potentially hundreds of people. Don’t think that these oil rigs are the next suburb, however, because oil rig communities will only really be suited for a specific type of person.
Compared to several other floating community designs, urbanized oil rigs have several disadvantages. First off, a smaller space would mean that there is less area devoted to labor and work, meaning that only a select group of individuals would be able to make a living there. Unless you’re a reclusive author, marine biologist, or eccentric inventor who does his best work in solitude, you’re probably better off avoiding oil rig habitats.
Additionally, people who live in these oil rigs would need to be comfortable with (and, indeed, actually enjoy) being separated from the bulk of mainland. Larger floating cities, such as Noah’s Arc, contain such an enormous number of people that inhabitants see new faces all the time. If you’re stuck on a manmade island with 100 or so people, then you’d better be sure that you really like those people, or you’re bound to go stir crazy.
Transforming old oil rigs into communities is an interesting idea, but it will realistically lack a few features that will be necessary for normal living. If the oil rigs were close to bustling cities, then communities like these might actually be possible. After all, riding to work on a boat is a great way to beat rush hour, and you’d constantly have a great view of the ocean.
If the oil rig is more than 30 miles from a major city, though, that’s when things start to get tricky. In cases like that, you’re not creating an aquatic community so much as a prison. At that point, it starts to look like the setting for some weird, seaborne murder mystery.