This invention, profiled in Business Insider, has interesting possibilities.
A tiny fiberglass island is bobbing up and down in the San Francisco Bay right now.
From far away, it looks like a beluga whale poking through the water. Up close, it looks like a misshapen raft. In reality, it’s a buoyant structure known as the “Float Lab,” which is designed to foster a floating ecosystem.
The prototype was deployed in August by a team of designers at the California College of the Arts (CCA)’s Architectural Ecologies Lab. Their goal is to see if animals will attach to the island, thus expanding its size and creating a buffer against ocean currents. An entire network of islands, they predict, could help calm the bay’s choppy waters and prevent future floods from ravaging the coast.
If the structure holds up, it could even provide a model for floating cities — a design concept that’s supported by the United Nations as a way to address rising sea levels.
The designers — Adam Marcus, the director of the Architectural Ecologies Lab, and two colleagues, Evan Jones and Margaret Ikeda — tested around two dozen prototypes before launching the final version.
From 2014 to 2018, they installed fiberglass plates underwater in both the Monterey and San Francisco Bays. The plates were around 24 inches long and 24 inches wide.
“They started to perform very well as upside down habitats for animals,” Marcus told Business Insider.
A Bay Area fabrication company named Kreysler & Associates helped build the structure, using robots to carve the mold. Workers then covered the surface with fiberglass by hand.
“Animals love attaching themselves to hard surfaces,” Marcus said.
The process in which marine creatures latch onto boats is known as “fouling,” and it’s often viewed negatively by sailors, since it can damage boats or cause them to slow down. But Marcus’ team thinks fouling could be used to humans’ benefit: If enough animals attach to a floating structure, he said, they might reduce the force of waves against the shore.
Retrieved October 14, 2019 from https://www.businessinsider.com/floating-city-prototype-san-francisco-bay-2019-10#the-team-hopes-that-animals-will-attach-themselves-to-the-island-creating-a-mini-ecosystem-3