08 February 2010

New Seastead Design: The Gyre

The Gyre is an upside-down skyscraper floating on the surface of the ocean. It is like an iceberg in that most of its mass is beneath the surface, but more stable than an iceberg since the underwater ballast will not melt.
The Gyre is essentially an inverted underwater skyscraper, diving down to a depth of 400 m (1,312 ft) and would be about the same height as the Empire State Building. Four arms extend from the center spire (1.25 km in diameter) and act to buoy the structure as well as create a safe inner harbor and port large enough to accommodate the world’s most titanic ships. The center tower starts off at 30,000 sq meters of space and each floor down gets progressively smaller, down to 600 sq meters. The total floor area of the entire structure is 212,000 sq.meters, or roughly 40 football fields. _Inhabitat _ via _ Ecofriend

The center piece of the design features a double-hulled vortex with both hulls being clad in reinforced glass, where each of the floor levels are essentially a layering of concentric rings ranging in size from 30,000 sq.m. down to 600 sq.m. Inclinators riding along the inner structural ribs provide for vertical/diagonal transportation between floors. Total floor area of the entire structure (levels, radial arms, barriers) is approximately 212,000 sq.m. (or roughly 40 football fields). The Gyre’s radial arms feature a pedestrian upper level and a transit system on the lower level to access to the outer protective barriers. The barriers create an inner harbor and port of approximately 1.25 km in diameter, accommodating the needs of even the world’s largest ships.

...The first two levels of the Gyre's vortex are dedicated to circulation, community gatherings, restaurants and commerce. Intermediate levels accommodate long-term residents, oceanic experts, hotel guests and crew quarters totaling as many as 2000 people. The deepest levels are dedicated to a scientific observatory for oceanographic research and an Interpretive Center for public discovery of the depths of the ocean.

When comparing the designs of the Seasteading Institute with a design like the Gyre, it is important to understand which elements of each design need to be retained, and which need to be jettisoned.   The design from TSI is top-heavy and vulnerable to atypical rogue waves.  The Gyre is bottom heavy and vulnerable to below-surface phenomenon.

Clearly a more balanced design that incorporates as many of the best concepts as possible would be preferable.   The floating radial arms of the Gyre suggest the bare skeleton of a breakwater feature -- which could be extended or retracted on short notice.  A larger design incorporating four, six, or more "Gyres" in formation, might provide both a substantial extended breakwater and a balanced foundation for structures well above waterline.

Al Fin marine engineers stress the point that the "ship's hull" concept has served incredibly well over the millenia.  They are adamant that sophisticated multi-hull structures are more likely to survive the worst of open ocean storms and rogue waves -- more likely to survive than the vertical pontoon styles deriving from oil exploration traditions.  Protected waters are a different story.

The Gyre presents itself as a habitable vertical pontoon supported by a round central "hull" and four radial arm"outriggers."  The TSI design consists of four extensively cross-braced vertical pontoons supporting a well-above-sealevel platform for building habitable structures.  Neither design is suitable, as is.  But neither is a bad starting point.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Gyre is bottom heavy and vulnerable to below-surface phenomenon."

You mean like sudden releases of gas from volcanoes and methane hydrates or the like? I don't currently spend a whole lot of time at sea (or underneath it for that matter) but I instinctually fear surface hazards more than subsurface ones. Maybe I have seen Yellow Submarine one too many times and have an overly romantic view of the deep. If the lower levels had emergency subs I think I would rather live down there. Marine biologists would probably be fairly interesting to socialize with if the topic of politics is avoided. Certainly preferable to the climatologists on the middle and upper levels.

Tuesday, 09 February, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading your article the first thing that popped into my head was Las Vegas. It's been a few years since I went to LV, but your design reminds me of the Stratosphere tower, and the inclinators remind me of the Luxor.

Tuesday, 09 February, 2010  
Blogger Loren said...

The Navy might actually be interested in something like this. IF the arms are long enough, a standard runway, possibly heavy enough to take c-130s and other small cargo planes, as well as docking most ships alongside is possible.

The outriggers are really just counterbalances, and could to some extent be built into their own towers if desired. Include a deep sea drilling rig and refinery, and refueling is easy.

It could provide a deep sea outpost in the open ocean where such a thing is otherwise impossible.

Tuesday, 09 February, 2010  
Blogger al fin said...

Baron: Large waves have strong effects both above and below the surface. Pressure is a constant presence below surface, just like vacuum is a constant presence in space.

Ron: The current crop of seasteads all seem to want to be another Las Vegas.

Loren: The outriggers are both counterbalances and docking points. But extending them and adding more support and flotation might allow you to use them for several additional functions.

Methane hydrate recovery and other mining may indeed be possible for a larger and more ambitious version of a seastead.

Ocean space launch is yet another possible venture.

Wednesday, 10 February, 2010  

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