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The Floating Metropolis That Could Support Brazil’s Offshore Oil Rigs

In Brazil, the offshore oil mining industry is expanding. Unfortunately for oil companies though, it’s expanding away from the coast, as new oil deposits are found further and further from land – so far, in fact, that they’re outside the range of the helicopters that usually transport workers to and from the rigs. That’s why Rice University students took on the challenge of designing “Drift & Drive,” a floating community where workers and their families could stay for extended periods of time, eliminating the inconvenience of the usual “two weeks on, two weeks off” cycle.

The project won the Odebrecht Award last year, and now one of the largest petrochemical companies in Brazil, Petrobras, is working on a plan to implement elements of the design.

Read on after the break for more about how the project functions

View of central crossing of the central hub island, one of dozens of man-made islands envisioned by Rice University architecture students. The islands would serve as a floating city for oil workers off the coast of Brazil.. Image Courtesy of Rice School of Architecture, via NPR

In order to create a system that is almost entirely self-sufficient, save for the import of meat products, the community is made up of a series of artificial floating islands, which are both built upon the existing infrastructure of pipes/rigs and also laid out in a string along the ocean’s natural current flows. The key elements are larger ‘hub’ islands, where people actually live, and are provided with workplaces, leisure facilities and other essential amenities. Between these hubs is a series of agricultural islands which grow the food for the islanders. Food is harvested on a twice weekly basis and collected by ‘drift boats’ that travel along the string of islands to distribute the crops throughout the metropolis. The islands themselves are stabilized with computer-controlled ballast tanks, rising and falling depending on the wave height.

Although the extent to which the students’ ideas will be emulated is uncertain, Petrobras plans to implement a version of the solution within the next five years. In addition to the video above, the students of Rice University have also released a book, “The Petropolis of Tomorrow” which documents the design of the project.

Story via NPR

Cite: Stott, Rory. "VIDEO: The Floating Metropolis That Could Support Brazil’s Offshore Oil Rigs" 05 Mar 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed 05 Mar 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=482363>
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