Last modified: 7:58 AM Saturday, 14 January 2017

“I’d like to be under the sea
In an octopus’s garden in the shade.
He’d let us in, knows where we’ve been,
In his octopus’s garden in the shade.

I’d ask my friends to come and see
An octopus’s garden with me.
I’d like to be under the sea
In an octopus’s garden in the shade.

We would be warm below the storm
In our little hideaway beneath the waves,
Resting our head on the sea bed,
In an octopus’s garden near a cave.

We would sing and dance around
Because we know we can’t be found.
I’d like to be under the sea
In an octopus’s garden in the shade.

We would shout and swim about
The coral that lies beneath the waves
(Lies beneath the ocean waves).
Oh what joy for every girl and boy
Knowing they’re happy and they’re safe
(Happy and they’re safe).

We would be so happy, you and me,
No one there to tell us what to do.
I’d like to be under the sea
In an octopus’s garden with you
In an octopus’s garden with you
In an octopus’s garden with you.”

—The Beatles, “Octopus’s Garden”

Full meters five thy bedroom lies

I think I was sixteen when I had the idea — inspired by the tranquil beauty of my aquaria full of cichlids, anabantids, cyprinids and characins — of one day constructing a hotel built into a gigantic aquarium. Made of reinforced plexiglass, it would, I reasoned, be sturdy enough to withstand such shocks as might befall it, and the rooms, ventilated by air driven by pumps with redundant power supply, could be safely occupied despite being surrounded by water. Its one defect would be its cost; such construction couldn’t be achieved without an outlay of money far beyond the means of anyone I knew.

Undersea hotel room

This underwater hotel suite, so striking and rare today, may before long become a commonplace and a practical necessity.
To see image at full size, click here.
[ Image Source ]

Now someone with the funds to effect something like this has nearly duplicated my idea, constructing this hotel suite five meters under the Indian Ocean for such guests as can afford to stay in it. Unsurprisingly, that someone is the Hilton hotel chain — not among the world’s most popular corporations at present, but definitely lacking no pecuniary means.

If I could afford it, I would be fascinated to stay in it. My sole concern: earthquakes. I only hope this plexiglass construction is sufficiently strong and flexible to survive a significant tremor, such as most of our coastal regions often endure. Otherwise, the swim up the stairs would be a desperate struggle.

But, looking fifty to seventy-five years into the future, I see such construction becoming no longer the stuff of picturesque fantasy vacationing, but a sensible and quotidian means of housing many of the world’s people. As ocean levels rise, populations grow, weather becomes more unpredictable and violent, food and land to grow it on become scarcer, and wars for resources scar much of the continental surfaces, offshore housing will, I think, begin to offer accommodations that may mean deliverance for many millions.

There will, of course, be practical problems, the worst of them being — predictably — earthquake/tsunami safety and ventilation.

However, the power of necessity cannot be denied. We are going to need places for our people to live, and less land will be available for more people, so whatever has to be done to effect this idea will be. One element of the solution may be to anchor such dwellings to the sea floor not with rigid structural elements, but with cables that will hold them in place while allowing limited freedom of movement that will free them of stresses that would otherwise destroy them. Air, meanwhile, will have to be supplied through flexible plastic tubes from redundant pumping systems.

Even with all possible precautions, these domiciles could still be nerve-racking to live in. Psychologically if not in reality, the thought of all of those trillions of tons of water awaiting the slightest breach, or of how easily accident or malice could close one’s vital airways, could not fail to daunt.

Such terrors notwithstanding, I believe that such housing will be built because it must. Let’s hope there’ll still be some means of making plexiglass when this comes to pass, though, for in the years after peak oil, such materials are certain to become rare and costly. It would be galling to imagine that undersea housing might be built to offer ordinary citizens a place to live, only to fall victim to economic forces that will once again render such accommodations available only to those who can afford to live in the Hilton.

Originally published as a review of an post about the Indian Ocean Hilton.

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