Return To the Sea Edit
Renewable Energy Edit
The primary logistical role of marine colonization in TMP is simple; to exploit en-mass the renewable energy potential of the sea in order to meet the tremendous energy demand of concerted space development. Savage was one of a few space advocates to acknowledge and address the energy overhead of future space activity, recognizing that the energy demand of our current civilization, even as grossly wasteful as it's commonly perceived, would pale in comparison to the overhead of one routinely operating in space. It is simply impossible for our civilization to move into space in any significant way relying on the paltry reserves of fossil fuels and fissionable materials, even if they weren't already on the wane. Cultivating a new comprehensive renewable energy infrastructure is therefore mandatory for any serious scheme of space development. There simply is no other source of energy sufficiently large enough, and the sea represents our single greatest terrestrial reserve of renewable energy thanks to the ocean's role as the planet's largest solar energy collector.
Many space advocates pin their hopes of solving Earth's energy issues on the creation of an orbital solar power infrastructure, where solar power satellites collect and beam energy by microwave to the Earth. Certainly, long term TMP recognizes that this will indeed be the ultimate form of solar energy exploitation for the civilization. But today the orbital industrial infrastructure needed to create such a system beyond the level of minor demonstrations doesn't exist and would still overwhelm our current terrestrial energy infrastructure to create. We cannot bootstrap a spacefaring civilization with that source of energy alone, even if it will be very significant eventually. A more immediate source is needed, and that source is the sea.
Industrial Infrastructure Edit
The secondary logistical role of marine colonization is to provide a home for a new industrial infrastructure focused on space development but independent of government and its military-industrial complex. This new infrastructure would be a direct product of the cultivation of that critical renewable energy infrastructure. Contemporary national space programs are on the wane, despite their routine declarations of ambitious plans for lunar and Mars missions. With a world in turmoil, they are losing the debate of bread or rockets. The current aerospace industry, with its dual-allegiance to both commercial and military interests, its unhealthy dependence upon public money, and a long and blatant history of chronic nepotism, functions with gross inefficiency. The recent innovations of new Second Space Age ventures have been due largely to abandonment by entrepreneurs -because the nepotism left them no other choice- of the established aerospace industry resulting in a new freedom to employ strategies and technologies that have long been resisted or ignored by the mainstream industry. This trend seems destined to continue, but as the new generation of aerospace companies grow in size they risk back-sliding into the behavior patterns of their more primitive Industrial Age predecessors due to their proximity to and growing interaction with them.
Savage believed that in order to maintain its focus on the goal of space development the new industrial infrastructure cultivated by TMP needed some physical isolation and economic autonomy from the Industrial Age establishment even if it might have to interact with it on some level. Aquarius' primary logistical role neatly provides an opportunity for both, by creating new mid-ocean locations for industrial and an anti-zero-sum economic foundation rooted in the resources of renewable energy and renewable food production. Total autonomy is, of course, impossible but these factors could give TMP's industrial facilities an economic and intellectual edge over their Industrial Age counterparts that translates directly into an edge on innovation, especially when combined with Aquarius' potential as a uniquely powerful cultural incubator.
Opening the Space Port Edit
The third most important logistical role of Aquarius colonies is as a location for the development of a new space transportation infrastructure, starting simply as a convenient NIMBYism-free location for early launch facilities but eventually becoming an integral physical component of new electrically powered transportation systems. While it's certainly possible to employ renewable energy in the production of fuels for conventional rocket propelled launch systems -and these will most certainly be pursued as part of TMP's overall space development work- ultimately propulsion systems that can directly employ electric power will be the most efficient at using renewable energy, and thus form the basis of the bulk of space transit in the future. Again, owing to the mystique associated with rocketry, this is a conclusion that has eluded most space advocates when considering the long-term future of space development. Savage originally pinned his plans for transportation upon the concept of the Bifrost mass launcher -a mass accelerator system built into a mountain. But this concept proved technically infeasible. Today the TMP2 project focuses on the Space Elevator concept as the basis for such a system with Aquarius settlements serving as its downstation facilities -a logical role since, historically, cities have often grown up around centers of intermodal transfer. (road and rail to ship or air and now ship and air to space) But TMP2 also plans to explore other electric power based technologies such as marine based mass accelerators and the laser pulse detonation LightCraft concept. These will be discussed in detail in other articles.
Breadbasket of the Stars Edit
The fourth logistical role of Aquarius is as the breadbasket for initial space settlement. Farming is the root of all civilization and techniques for doing that effectively in space will take time to cultivate. Thus early space settlements will still depend primarily on terrestrial sources of food. Though the general terrestrial market for food products would certainly be adequate to these early needs, there is a practical benefit in food production being associated with the same terrestrial TMP facilities that work in space by establishing a continuum of food industry and technology that can aid and speed the transition to orbital farming capability. In other words, food production techniques on the open sea are a direct precursor to those that are likely to be employed in space and performing this activity near TMP's marine space centers is a practical extension of its space research. But in addition to providing early space settlements with food, Savage envisioned Aquarius colonies as becoming a major food producer on the global scale, thus making this a key source of revenue for TMP.
The use of OTEC systems for renewable energy exploitation has the side-benefit of producing both copious amounts of fresh water and upwellings of nutrient rich deep sea water akin to the natural marine upwellings that commonly fuel the major fisheries of the world. Tapping this source of water to support polyspecies mariculture facilities -which in turn would support intensive hydroponic farming facilities- has the potential to turn Aquarian settlements not only into a renewable breadbasket for space but for the whole Earth. Unlike conventional farming, there is no fossil fuel overhead in the production of food by these technologies and a greatly reduced labor overhead, potentially resulting in a radically reduced cost of food -especially when coupled to transportation likewise based on renewable energy.
If all the Aquarius phase needed to accomplish were these four logistical roles, there would only be a need for marine facilities of an industrial nature. But the Aquarius plan calls for much more than that; the creation of a macro-community of large and vital equatorial communities at sea potentially hosting hundreds of thousands of residents each. The purpose of such colonization goes beyond simple logistical objectives. This is about a new culture.
The Case for Earth Edit
Much of the field of space advocacy today seems to have an underlying theme of escape for an elite community, with Earth seen as a lost-cause and space colonization as civilization's last hope of survival. Anyone with a modicum of intelligence today is often left to wonder if civilization has reached some point of no return. Anti-social, anti-environmental, non-progressive, and just plain insane behavior seems chronic and pervasive throughout society with corporate, political, and religious leaders actively egging-on our own destruction in open defiance of logic and reason. Even intellectual luminaries like Stephen Hawking routinely and publicly express doubt in our civilization's ability to survive another century. So it's understandable that many would come to the conclusion that the majority of society is simply beyond help and that the survival of the civilization depends on breaking away from the majority of hopeless primitives and striking out on one's own in a new territory in space -which would be fine if it wasn't for the fact that it's impossible.
While we no longer live in an age where getting to space is the sole province of the governments of super-power nations and their military industrial complex, we still face a reality where we can't stay there and build a permanent extension of civilization without the comprehensive support of the civilization. Contrary to the fantasies of many space enthusiasts, we don't yet have the technology to allow individuals to 'homestead' in space. Living there permanently means establishing large community settlements and vast infrastructures as an extension of the existing terrestrial infrastructures -and doing that all with little hope of real 'profit' in the conventional sense on Earth. That will never be possible as long as space is a 'bread or rockets' proposition for the civilization as a whole. We either deal with our mess on Earth or we can forget about a future in space because we cannot escape the drag of terrestrial problems. There will forever be any number of crisis, real or manufactured, to obstruct any escape plan. The First Space Age failed not because of a lack of societal will but because of a diversion of that will by an eruption of countless other distracting problems worldwide. Richard Nixon didn't kill Apollo. A world in too much turmoil to ignore did.
Marshal Savage understood this problem well and realized that in order to successfully cultivate a spacefaring civilization it was necessary to rewire the existing dominant culture in such a way as to not only greatly reduce Earth's chronic social, economic, and environmental problems but also produce a large society-wide dividend in human productivity that could be redirected toward space. This meant cultivating a new culture, and that is the social objective of Aquarius. Savage saw the sea as a kind of 'space lite'. A place where one is compelled to adopt a lifestyle very similar to that necessary in space but where the environment won't immediately kill you if you screw things up while trying to learn how to do this. It's a place that, even with all the benefits of contemporary technology, favors social cohesion, light and efficient use of materials -especially when relying heavily on what resources the open sea can provide- and a society that encourages high and diverse technical proficiency among individuals. This was the sort of culture Savage imagined transforming the world with.
Due to limited space in the original TMP text, Savage wasn't able to adequately communicate an impression of the new culture he was envisioning or its full practical role in the context of space development, leading to some confusion about the effective role of Aquarius itself with some concluding the phase to be an unnecessary distraction. Truth be told, the notion that Earth matters is a radical idea in the space advocacy community. Today we understand that the culture Savage was trying to describe is one already emergent in our civilization as a result of the current trends in technology evolution and which we refer to as a Post-Industrial culture -using the term originally coined for it in the 1960s and not to be confused by economists current but common misuse of the same term to refer to industrial nations that have off-loaded their production to the Third World. A Post-Industrial culture is a 'prosumer' culture where the Industrial Age centralization and concentration of economic and industrial power by the centralization of industrial production give way to the emerging technologies of industrial independence, compelling a transformation of the concept and nature of work, the design and value of goods, the patterns of resource utilization, and the evolution of an increasingly resource-based rather than labor based system of economics. All profit is time from people's lives -time that could be spent in many better ways. By eliminating -bit-by-bit- the dependence upon distant producers and markets for our daily needs, be it by changing our needs or changing how we fulfill them, we effectively 'eliminate the middle-men', so to speak, recovering a great deal of squandered time and resources. It is through this kind of culture that we realize a potentially vast dividend on human productivity commonly squandered to systematic waste and to profit for a distant few. A dividend that can be invested in space as well as in solving many of civilization's chronic problems.
But Aquarius is intended to address Earth's chronic problems in an even more direct and immediate way. By virtue of their ability to produce energy and food in such vast volume, the marine colonies of Aquarius would, as Savage described it; "...come to the poker table of world economics like a player with a fire hose spewing chips hidden up his sleeve." Thus Aquarius could strike a blow at the very premise of zero-sum economics and the Industrial Age structures of resource dependency. In addition, these colonies would have the potential to become the world's primary source of food aid for struggling nations or disaster-struck communities, though Savage was a bit obsessed with the role of algaeculture in this. We know now that this potential food source has some complications, such as a possible 30% of the population being allergic to blue-green algae and a need for much more sophisticated processing than Savage anticipated in order to extract the full nutrient potential of it. But this is only one of a vast assortment of mariculture products marine colonies can produce, including not only food but fertilizer suitable for farming uses elsewhere.
The First Marine Colony Edit
The core development objective of Aquarius is, of course, the construction of the first marine colony. This would be followed by many others, duplicating the same development strategy but aided by the resources and facilities of their predecessors. The end result would be an equatorial archipelago hosting communities from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of inhabitants. Many changes have been made to the plans for the first Aquarius colony in TMP2 as Savage's original scheme proved problematic. Though perfectly logical in the context of the physical design Savage envisioned for Aquarius, it overlooked a critical logistical issue that became an insurmountable obstacle.
The original Aquarius design was based on a vast static float structure of hexagonal cellular units producing a mountain-like central habitat structure surrounded by a vast protective breakwater ring. Intended to be both functional and symbolic, the Aquarius design was to become an icon of TMP, representing community and an organismic strategy of organization that was a reflection of Savage's social vision. Fashioned using a process known as electrolytic sea accretion -the use of an electrolytic reaction to cause the deposition of calcium carbonate from sea water onto a reinforcement structure doubling as an electrode, producing a form of grown-in-place concrete- large cellular modules in the form of platforms or towers would be cultured underwater and then raised into place to connect to the main structure. A logical choice of technology which seemed to compliment the organismic symbolism of the design and neatly combine OTEC power with the extraction of material directly from the sea. Invented by Dr. Wolf Hilbertz, the technology unfortunately proved infeasible due to irreproducible performance claims. Despite the efforts of numerous researchers, to date no one has produced a sea accretion structure thicker than a single inch and Aquarius called for structures that might, in spots, be dozens of feet thick.
But the chief problem for the original Aquarius design concept was actually much more basic than this; the reliance on fixed anchored static floats. Unaware of other floating marine platform technologies, Savage was faced with the simple problem of how to incrementally fabricate such large structures on the open sea when, even at the equator, the general sea conditions were too rough for such work. This led him to the notion of Aquarius Rising; a preliminary phase of development based on the creation of a large community of coastal eco-villages where the preliminary R&D work for OTEC, mariculture, and sea accretion could be performed and where, at a certain point, all these small communities would simultaneously pre-fabricate the components of Aquarius' breakwater ring in order to create the sheltered environment necessary for the on-site fabrication of its main structure. A very logical idea except for one crucial problem; Aquarius Rising villages called for coastal lagoon sites with convenient access from the Western industrial nations where most of their prospective inhabitants would come from. This is the scarcest and most expensive class of real estate in the world, owing to its great demand for resorts and luxury housing. Dozens of Aquarius Rising communities would have been needed to produce all the modules of a breakwater in a relatively short period of time and each one of them faced competition from resort and condominium developers for property costing millions of dollars per acre. This put even a single Aquarius Rising community far out of reach of any modest group of volunteers no matter how well organized they might be.
Moving to more remote locations where coastal real estate might be much cheaper offered no solution either because such locations were then too far away for the majority of people in Western countries to move to -or even visit on a routine basis to volunteer their help. One faced a Catch-22 where in order for such remote places to be practical the community had to immediately provide high paying jobs and the full compliment of suburban amenities, which they couldn't until after they were very substantial in size -perhaps as big as the finished Aquarius colony itself. New communities don't usually spring-up out of a vacuum. They grow at the periphery of existing civilization, at the ends of existing transportation/communication links upon which they rely to compensate for what they lack in local facilities. Growth and standard of living are keyed to the bandwidth of these links to the rest of the civilization.
Today we understand that there are much superior structural technologies available that not only eliminate the obstacles and complications of the original Aquarius design; they eliminate the need for any preliminary Aquarius Rising development phase, allowing marine settlements to be initially deployed near-shore and near western urban centers, to grow incrementally, and to migrate to the open sea as they grow. In addition, most of the technologies that Savage expected would require some long period of R&D work are now off-the-shelf or nearly-so, making the entire proposition of marine settlement much simpler and more straightforward than Savage originally imagined. And though no direct replacement for the electrolytic sea accretion process has emerged, we know now that materials for conventional concrete are already renewably sourced from the sea and we now have even superior alternatives at hand in the form of 'eco-concretes' which make conventional concrete carbon-neutral and a variety of geopolymers; advanced concretes based on silicate rather than calcium chemistry which are far stronger, environmentally friendly, take far less energy to produce, and can likewise be sourced from the sea.
Growth and Development of a Colony Edit
Thus with TMP2 we arrive at a new and simple plan for the development of Aquarius starting with any number of small near-shore sheltered-water floating structures evolved from present-day floating home technology based on simple foam core ferro-cement platforms, as is in common use on the coasts of most western nations and now the basis of large housing developments in Holland. Called seed settlements, these could be founded by well-heeled individuals or any modest group of sufficiently ambitious people and could be founded as simple eco-villages, co-housing or co-habitation complexes, condos, or even resorts which would be easily accessible from coastal urban centers. With little more than the innovation of a more modular structure than typical for these platforms (because they tend to be built like 'foundations' for individual homes), these seed settlements would be free to expand incrementally and indefinitely, switching to progressively larger float platform systems over time and moving progressively farther out to sea as their local population afforded the necessary local facilities and/or longer distance transportation.
Eventually these communities would grow to a size to allow the use of pneumatically stabilized platforms (PSPs) which they would be able to manufacture on-site using reinforced concrete or geopolymer. PSPs use a structure composed of large open-bottom cylindrical cells in modular arrays that are linked together by air ducts such that the energy of advancing waves is communicated as air pressure into the cells ahead of them, turning their own energy against them to dampen and attenuate them. PSPs are able to completely consume all waves of a wavelength shorter than the platform cross-section. And by putting turbines into the air ducts they can extract electric power from the waves they consume as a bonus! With this technology a community structure can move to the open sea without the need for any form breakwater structure, except as a possible extension just to create recreational bays and sheltered mariculture facilities. The platform itself is it's own wave attenuator, allowing ships to freely dock on its leeward sides or in enclosed berths. And there's no need for any fixed anchoring systems. Using the power gathered from wave energy, the platform can employ an array of electric azimuth thrusters that actively maintain the position of the community structure under GPS based automated control without any anchors, and at much less cost as the structure moves to deeper water. The chief limitation is that, at its periphery, such platforms must have high clearance because, while consuming all waves of lesser wavelength than the platform, waves of great hight will still splash over the platform edge. Thus architectural features offering close proximity to the water -such as artificial beach fronts- must be internalized through the creation of bays or lagoons sheltered by the rest of the structure.
Here we have a much more organic process of marine settlement development than Savage had envisioned that allows participants a much quicker opportunity to begin enjoying the lifestyle and cultivating the culture of Aquarius. Aquarius is now a place for the current generation, not just their children. It's something that can be started now, today, with off-the-shelf technology and made a comfortable attractive home for those participating in building it. One can expect attrition among the Aquarius seeds. Some may stall in growth or be abandoned before achieving a critical mass in population. Some might achieve seafaring scale but choose to remain near shore because they become so economically or culturally important to coastal communities that they are offered powerful incentives to stay where they are. Some might choose to become perpetually mobile, roaming the globe instead of taking up an equatorial position. But once the first of these reaches the equator, their reproduction at the equator becomes possible, since the initial settlements provide a local independent infrastructure for others.
There are few, if any, examples in history of lasting communities having been built all-at-once. Shelter is a verb and communities or cities are emergent phenomenon that normally form from a constantly evolving convergence of individual interests, not some master-plan. Thus with TMP2 we understand that Aquarius is not a single project or piece of architecture but a system of building place -a continuing process of evolution between people's needs and structure- that happens to be at sea rather than on land and which favors the evolution of a certain arcology-like urban form by the compulsion of the marine environment, simple convenience, and cost-efficiency.
Aquarian Technology Edit
The key logistical factor in determining the pace of growth from these Seed settlements to full-scale marine colonies is transportation. While pursuing technologies of self-sufficiency and industrial independence are, of course, very important to the development of Aquarius settlements, absolute self-sufficiency is impossible and for a long time the fledgling settlements will remain very dependent upon the coastal infrastructure for work venues and the staples of daily life, owing largely to their small size and predominately residential use of space. Originally, the villages of Aquarius Rising were intended to engage in a host of R&D associated with the building, energy, and farming technologies of Aquarius. Aquarius Seeds would engage in similar activity but with a greater emphasis on the development of transportation systems and local business venues which would directly enable a high standard of living at a progressively greater distance from shore and with progressively more autonomy from the coastal infrastructure.
Homesteading the sea is a popular fantasy among the more technophilic of environmental enthusiasts. But the reality is that we have very limited and costly transportation options when it comes to marine and air travel and this limits the minimum scale of a community at any given distance, owing to the economy of scale required to support a given form of transportation. With a typical 'fast ferry' ship costing 25 million dollars, helicopters similarly costing a few million for the carrying capacity of a mini-van, and jet airliners demanding billion dollar facilities, it takes a considerable scale of community to afford such links to shore. Some have regarded Marshal Savage's proposal of the development of airships as the key Aquarian transportation system as fanciful at best. But though his particular choice of airship technology was not the most practical (Magnus Effect airships have long since been abandoned as an unreliable technology) the basic concept is quite sound. Just because aircraft enthusiasts may label something as 'antiquated' doesn't mean it has no practical use. Airships fill a very large gap in the spectrum of cost/performance in aircraft that, frankly, no one in the commercial aerospace industry is making any serious attempt to fill by other means. More than any other factor, this gap in transportation capability is the key issue that has precluded marine colonization to date. Ultimately, for Aquarius to work it must realize transportation technology that can provide a transit cost-per-pound akin to the semi or tractor-trailer truck with at least the same speed and intercontinental range! What form of plane can do that? Airships are all we have today that can actually approach this. This, along with many other forms of ships and aircraft, will have to be explored as the residents of the Aquarius Seed settlements strive for the equator.
Because OTEC systems require access to deep sea water in excess of a 2500 foot depth, deployment of such systems will have to wait until a settlement can move well off-shore and into waters nearer the equator. But, again, a large minimum economy of scale for this technology limits OTEC deployment to a fairly substantial community anyway. Until then all the other forms of renewable energy technology would need to be explored, though low-performance demonstration OTEC systems are still a possibility. Seed settlements in more northern waters, however, may still require use of some form of fuel based energy due to lesser solar insulation or potential for use of wind power, which would be an important factor in determining their pattern of growth and how quickly they can escape coastal dependency. It's likely that many strategies may be experimented with owing to the differences in initial location for these seed communities. There is no one right path to the Equator. Each settlement will need to find their own.
Local industrial development is likewise likely to vary greatly with starting location, some locations favoring a strategy based entirely on simple residential and commercial real estate speculation -exploiting the novelty and security of floating community real estate. Others may focus on tourism. And some communities may be founded on the specific industry of mariculture or the fabrication of marine platforms for use by others which the settlement serves as an architectural showcase for. Perhaps the most ambitious of all founding commercial strategies may be to create a seed as a floating space center, even if that does incur some cost in standard of living due to starting out in much more remote locations.
Architecturally, the approach of employing seed settlements offers a great deal of initial diversity because of the simplicity of using foam core ferro-cement platforms at the start. These would be largely independent of the surface structures built upon them and, just as they allow for the use of conventional stick-framed housing on water at present, they would enable a variety of possible design approaches based on different building systems and methods. Most will likely employ some variation on what's called a Chinese Mansion organization (the name referring to the circular-walled Hakka villages of China), using a roughly radial layout of inwardly focused dwellings surrounding a sheltered community garden space, an approach common to many eco-community designs. But as Seed communities grow they are all likely to evolve toward a similar outwardly-focused 'tectonic' style of architecture dominated by the creation of mountain-like megastructures which host most habitable space inside them while leaving the exterior largely free for gardens, this deriving from a need for maximum efficiency in space use and a desire to create a naturalistic environment by mimicking the character of natural landscape. This is how we arrive at the three most likely forms of full scale Aquarius colony construction; Tectonic (based on a terraced platform structure mimicking contour map lines), Organic (based on variations of ferro-cement construction in free-form organic shapes mimicking natural landscape), and SeaFoam. (a more advanced form of Organic construction based on the use of a monolithic variable density nanofiber reinforced recyclable cementitious foam that is applied in bulk and sculpted to shape -a predecessor to the development of NanoFoam) As these communities approach their maximum scale their designs will become dominated by the use, shape, and position of internalized lagoons, these replacing break-water enclosed space of the original Aquarius concept. Some may be intended exclusively for mariculture purposes. Others for transportation terminals, others for recreation, and perhaps some as launch and landing facilities for spacecraft. Unlike the original TMP, TMP2 offers no single definitive design for an Aquarius colony. Assuming the use of an evolutionary architecture, we now expect these settlements to explore many forms and to evolve constantly in form over their lifetimes like living organisms. Cities are emergent phenomenon. If they aren't evolving, they're dead. The inability to freely evolve is the root cause of most problems with today's land based urban habitats.
Lifecycle of a Colony Edit
For sake of illustration, and to provide a platform for discussing the lifestyle of these communities, let's now consider one scenario for the development of a marine settlement, following it from Seed settlement to full-scale Aquarius colony. In other articles in this section we will be discussing in more details a number of likely architectural designs for Seed, Intermediate, and Colony scale settlements as well as various supporting technologies and transportation systems. This scenario will just be representative of one set of choices from among these.
Our model marine settlement begins with a modest eco-village development supporting a half to a dozen residences built using a modular component building system such as a derivative of the Utilihab and/or TomaTech building systems based on prefabricated aluminum framing and paneling. This is the same architecture described for the Utilihab Complex in the section on Seed Settlement Design Concepts. The settlement is built on a simple flat foam-core ferro-cement static float platform composed of 10 meter square modules with service wells in their corners and edges that provide access to module connector bolts and mounting points for anchor lines or small electric azimuth thrusters. Overall area is roughly 50-100 square meters plus additional space created by the use of prefab marine systems that is used primarily for boating and possibly to host such amenities as a community swimming pool on the platform periphery. The architecture is subtly reminiscent of Japanese or Polynesian architecture but with a distinct Modernist look and is composed of single story structures in a loose radial chain around a central community garden based on container gardening systems. A deck system integrated to the Utilihouse structures creates the basic floor level for everything -raised a half meter above the bare concrete of the platform which is generically hidden except at the platform perimeter. Flat roofs allow the tops of buildings to be used primarily for solar panels, both solar thermal based on vacuum tube arrays and photovoltaics, and telecommunications systems. Several small wind turbines provide supplemental energy and a small gas microturbine plant based on microturbine generators like the Capstone MicroGen provide additional power. A community fresh water cistern is placed underwater in a membrane tank beneath the platform. Sewerage systems are largely eliminated by the use of marine incinerating toilets and a greywater hydroponics system. A long semi-decorative cantilevered boom structure on one corner or edge of the platform supports a large novelty hanging lantern as a signal lamp, along with standard marine signaling equipment and a possible marine radar unit. Other amenities of the community include a cafe doubling as a community restaurant, a small first aid clinic or infirmary, a Fab Lab, a broadband telecom center with community WAN and host server facilities, a showcase mariculture facility, a large aquarium in a lounge pavilion that serves as the focus of the central garden design, and a small exhibit center with a walk-through displays for TMP. Total cost of the Seed settlement is in the area of 5 million US dollars -not cheap but within the means of a dozen or so more well-heeled and dedicated inhabitants. Founding itself as part of the Foundation CIC, the community plans initial development efforts on small luxury lease residences within the community and lease commercial activity managed by the inhabitants themselves. In addition, efforts would be made to market the community as a model for near-shore resorts and at-shore condominium complexes developed purely for profit of the CIC.
Location: southern California coast in a bay in the vicinity of San Diego. It's inhabitants opting to make a go of a completely free-floating community from the start rather than a community connected to the shore by, the new Seed settlement relies on a modest sized Solar Ferry and seeks to employ several additional modular marina component structures as the basis of mariculture demonstrations, though the primary commercial focus of the community is its own novel architecture and location. This spot is chosen by the inhabitants because of climate and because it offers proximity to both an urban center and several popular California coastal islands including Catalina, thus there is already an established marine transportation system which can be exploited by the community as it grows as well as a local up-scale seafood market which might make its mariculture efforts profitable and worth expanding to an industrial scale. However, the region does have water pollution issues, which may effect the design of mariculture systems employed. The location also puts it relatively close to waters suitable for OTEC deployment, though this is some time away in planning, and also has a history of marine launched rocketry, which several of the initial inhabitants are interested in exploring. (Hawaii offers a location with very similar characteristics, though with the caveat of being more difficult for those on the continental US to access and afford moving to)
Most of the initial inhabitants of this Aquarius Seed settlement are upper-middle-class technical professionals and artists, some in a semi-retired status, some entrepreneurs. The community maintains close proximity to the shore, relying heavily on commuter and telecommuter employment and local schools. Local industrial activity is entirely entrepreneurial while commercial activity -initially the community cafe (which doubles as a general store) and a local community shopping service- are likewise entrepreneurial and mostly the province of spouses looking to supplement household income.
The lifestyle of the Seed settlement is akin to that of a typical co-housing community but, owing to its ambitious goals and novel location and technology, it would quickly become the focus of much media attention, the local residents having to put up with a steady stream of visitors and TMP's own heavy use of the community as a media production center. Use of the community as a photo-shoot location would be frequent and could become a key source of income for the community. Social events would be frequent -as many LUF members travel to visit the settlement- and residents initial semi-pro efforts in marine rocketry would also create a routine series of community events.
In the first 5 years the Seed settlement may double or triple in size owing to the gravitas of its basic proof of concept, the media attention it attracts, and the desire of additional LUF and other residents to move there. Thus it would rely heavily on the flexibility of its modular component building system. Evolving into a 'local destination' in its own right, the community may find itself host to a B&B or small hotel/resort, a restaurant for the general public, and a tourist shop which sells promotional material for TMP as well as the products of local inhabitants. Celebrities may seek to rent portions of the community outright as a comfortably venue for their own social events with the benefits of strong security. In order to delineate between public and community zones of the settlement, a divided structure may evolve where a larger 'ring' hosts the homes of actual residents while other smaller 'rings' host these commercial activities. Industrial growth would also occur, the community seeking to establish on-site production capability for most of what it is made from, particularly the platforms and Utilihouse components. This would lead to a reduction in their costs and an increase in potential home size, residences evolving to typical two-story configurations with more elaborate outwardly-focused upper terraces. Mariculture operations may evolve to a separate but nearby platform dedicated to the activity. Initial explorations of new transportation systems, such as Xmaran would begin, the Solar Ferry becoming a local product which supports development of other vehicles like the Solar Wingsail Cruiser and Ecocruiser as well as small scale experimental versions of the Aquarian Airship and Wingship. The combination of Utilihab and ferro-cement platform may, by this time, become a vernacular for at-shore construction leading to the growth of local businesses based on it. Efforts with marine launched rocketry could also inspire growth, the community possibly achieving by this time its first launch vehicle on par with today's Zenit rockets.
10-15 years from start and the Seed community is a fixture of local coastal economics, expanded to the size of a modest town with over 500 permanent inhabitants, at least half as many temporary inhabitants, and a fair compliment of local commerce and community services. The majority of work venues are now local, though much of it dominated by white-collar and technical activity dealing in the management of entrepreneurial businesses with an increasingly global reach. New novelties may be added to its architecture, such as a number of simple underwater buildings built of Lexan shells suspended just beneath the platform. The first 'brand' commerce may appear in the form of attempts to site chain restaurants and corporate offices on the community. And it has competition, some perhaps even local, some not affiliated with TMP at all, as its reputation inspires others to emulate its modest success.
With the deployment of its first perimeter structure based on PSP modules, the community is now employing a hybrid architecture of both Utilihouse structures and 'loft' terraces in the Tectonic style. Sprawling perimeter structures are stripped away to produce a more consolidated form for the community centered on a primary internalized lagoon with the perimeter higher out of the water, allowing it to now move from its sheltered bay location to the less sheltered waters between Catalina and San Diego. This is aided by the introduction of routine EcoCruiser ferries as a replacement for the now too limited Solar Ferry, though commuter traffic is dwindling in favor of tourist traffic. With the deployment of their first OTEC plant on an independent open-sea PSP platform off the coast of Baja as well as their own ISO container terminal, residents are now beginning to anticipate the move to the Equator. But transportation technology may lag at this point and the community would face conflicting pressures from the coastal communities which no longer see the Seed community as some lark but now alternately a regional cultural icon -a symbol of a new regional attitude toward the future that local politicians may wish to capitalize on even if they themselves generally don't believe in the future as anything more than a marketing gimmick -and a disruptive influence, the ideas and technology that issue from it and its growing popularity as a commercial center disturbing the status-quo of the regional coastal communities on many levels.
With the deployment of its own on-board OTEC plants, the creation of a small EcoCruiser or Wingship fleet, and perhaps its own small Aquarius Airship fleet, and a series of supporting but independent industrial platforms converging on the Equator, the Seed community will have reached almost full colony size with a population over a thousand and would be ready to begin its migration to the Equator -now some 20-25 years from its inception. Though far from self-sufficient, the settlement is now fully self-sustaining and ready to explore the economic and cultural opportunities of political autonomy beyond the US EEZ. It has established independent economic and transportation links to the rest of the world as well as a number of other marine settlements which, thanks to its lead, have been growing at an even faster pace and are ready to join it at the Equator. It's architecture is now fully subsumed by the use of a Tectonic design -as well as a generous cover of plant growth- which has evolved to produce the first of a series of large ovoid radial lagoons surrounding a central 'mountain' housing a large multi-story commercial center in its hollow core. Utilihouse technology is still widely employed, but now primarily for the in-fill retrofit structure fleshing out its generic masonry terrace forms. SeaFoam may also now emerge as an alternative to earlier forms of masonry, offering new architectural options based on its more monolithic composition and its great strength-to-weight performance.
The slow journey south may take more than a year for the now adult colony. Along the way it picks up and integrates some of its remotely operating industrial facilities and upon arrival it is met by a curious structure which marks its adoption of an important new role. A small industrial platform first created as a mid-ocean space center and now hosting the first ribbon to orbit, the first Space Elevator. This will be installed in the center of a new colony core, emerging from its small artificial mountain peak soon surrounded by a growing number of petal-shaped lagoons producing a flower-like form for the full-grown marine colony.
Fully free of its mainland ties and with a robust and growing compliment of transportation linking it to the rest of the globe, the colony will be free to establish its own alternative digital financial markets based on a new independent economic system. Those original residents will have seen innumerable changes by this time and the growth of the Foundation CIC from a small venture to one of the largest multinational corporations with a family of industries emerging in its GreenStar Industrial Cooperative. Soon it will become the industrial and economic engine for the production of a growing number of satellite communities built in its peripheral vicinity then migrating out to other locations along the Equator. Expanding to a population over 100,000, over time it may fluctuate in size and population density as new generations seek to strike out on their own to create new colonies and explore new variations on its cultural themes or when new expansions of its Space Elevator compel new local growth driven by the increasing bandwidth of its access to space and the scale of facilities there. Many later colonies may be much smaller and much more fanciful in their architecture, owing to the infrastructure now emerging on the Equator and the way it reduced the minimum economy of scale necessary to live there.
And so we arrive at the full Aquarius colony, now the heart of a new culture, the core of a new Equatorial branch of civilization, the hub of a new emerging Post-Industrial infrastructure, and a very literal bridge to space. Long-term it will continue to evolve, possibly eventually physically linked to its sister colonies and an arcology network on land by underwater transit lines. And with the introduction of NanoFoam, perhaps a century from its inception, its architecture may become truly organismic and host to its own distributed cybernetic intelligence, of sorts. A node in a cybernetic web spanning the globe and reaching into space.
Drawings and NotesEdit
- The above schematic drawings illustrate four stages of Aquarian colony development, starting from a small near-shore seed community to full scale equatorial colony and transitioning from simple static ferro-cement floats with prefab modular construction to pneumatically stabilized paltforms supporting heavy reinforced concrete/geopolymer construction. The drawings are based on the assumption of tectonic architecture in later stages but other aesthetic styles would employ similar organization. Later evolution of the equatorial stage would likely diverge from purely symmetrical forms as shown, developing more organic free-form layouts.
- The tensegrity tower and balloon lanterns are a suggested aesthetic feature what would carry through all stages of development in various sizes and forms -though they are not shown in the 3rd generation drawing due to scale. The balloon lantern would be illuminated by multicolor high intensity LEDs which would allow it to change color as a way of communicating information. A spherical projection system may also be employed to provide changing images. These lanterns would be used as a simple unique form of decorative lighting, as a public clock/calendar, and possibly as a status display for colony systems when integrated to colony monitoring computers. In their most advanced form they may be used as the basis of a 'living Earth' globe based on composite satellite imagery and globally gathered data.
- The third generation open water form would be a potential point of divergence in colony development. By elongating this same form into an oval rather than circular form, with widening terraces fore and marina lagoon aft, the settlement would be able to assume the role of an 'arcoliner'; a nomadic marine settlement.
- The full equatorial colony drawing shows the use of a unique form of launch facility intended to support SSTO and other short profile launch vehicle systems some time prior to the development of the Bifrost Space Elevator. Self-mobile launch platforms docking to the side of the colony are paired with large vehicle assembly buildings which move whole over the launch platform to transfer vehicles. The platforms are designed to separate from the colony and self-propel some distance prior to vehicle launch or vertical landing, fueling vehicles from submerged storage tanking beneath them. These platforms would be an evolution from SWATH based in-water launch deployment vessels developed as early as the initial seed settlement. This strategy would allow for sophisticated aerospace development work to be conducted right on the colony, affording engineers the unique opportunity to work right from home. It would also provide a very short transport path for payloads delivered to the colony which could go straight from the heavy shipping lagoon to nearby launch facilities via container-handling PRT on the base colony level. More intensive launch activity would likely employ a large satellite platform which would mirror the basic Aquarian design but be based on a single shipping bay and a large radial array of these self-mobile launch platforms and VABs. Such a structure is a likely initial downstation facility design for initial space elevator deployment.
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