Using Star Wars films as one of the inspirations for his designs, a masters student at the University of Texas named Jason Mellard developed an aquatic research and housing facility to be located 50-100 miles offshore. Scientists studying marine and bird life would stay on the platform with their families in 6-13 month shifts and work in spheres consisting of laboratories, classrooms, computer labs, viewing platforms, holding tanks, offices and storage.
The actual research facilities would be submerged below sea level to aid in marine study and the living quarters would float on the surface. Certain portions could even be detached and act as independent vessels. And the whole thing would be powered using a combination of wind energy, solar energy, water currents and electricity collected from lightning.
Whether we will ever see this concept come to fruition remains unclear. A major stumbling block would certainly be Mallard's estimated $500 million to $1 billion price tag. So, unless there is someone out there with really deep pockets and a love for whales/the films of George Lucas, this one will probably remain on the shelf for a while. [AIA via Inhabitat]