It seems the construction boom in bustling Dubai is far from over – already home to several world record-holding projects, including the tallest building (for just a little while longer), the largest shopping mall and biggest man-made island, plans are now afoot to construct what will likely be the world's largest underwater luxury hotel, the Water Discus. Several years ago, we reported on another such ambitious project, Hydropolis, which sadly never got past the blueprint stage. If Polish company Deep Ocean Technology's (DOT) plans come to fruition, however, guests could one day find themselves asleep beneath the waters of the Persian Gulf.
To bring this fantasy complex into being, DOT, with the help of Swiss firm BIG InvestConsult AG, turned to local shipyard Drydocks World, which will be tasked with constructing the futuristic disc-shaped hotel. The underwater portion, with about 11,000 square feet (1,000 square meters) of usable area, will house 21 two-guest rooms, and sit about 33 feet (10 m) below the waves. Plans also call for a diving center complete with decompression chamber and air locks, a spa, a spacious garden, open terraces above the waterline, and even a helipad atop one of the surface discs for guests who wish to arrive by air.
To address the unpredictability that often comes with projects involving the sea, the entire structure can be moved should environmental (or economic) conditions change. For added safety, surface discs will be buoyant and detachable from the main structure to act as lifeboats should disaster strike. A large central shaft connects the submerged and surface discs and contains both an elevator and stairs for easy access between levels. Three adjustable columns add further support to the above-surface portion of the structure, the various discs of which are themselves interchangeable.
Bogdan Gutkowski, President of BIG, imagines the project will have an impact on numerous areas besides the region's tourism. “Water Discus Hotel project opens many new fields of development for the hotel and tourism sector, housing and city sector in the coastal off-shore areas, as well as new opportunities for ecology support by creation of new underwater ecosystems and activities on underwater world protection," he told World Architecture News. "Additionally we would like to create here in the UAE the International Environmental Program and Center of the Underwater World Protection – with Water Discus Hotel as a laboratory tool for oceans and seas environment protection and research.”
Grand plans, indeed.
While the idea of staying underwater is far from new, technology has greatly improved to meet the formidable challenges of sub-marine construction, so the likelihood of this and similar projects actually getting built is sure to increase. Famed explorer Jacques Cousteau once envisioned numerous manned underwater colonies to facilitate exploration and though that didn't come to pass, for fans of underwater living, projects like the Water Discus may prove to be the next best thing.