Undersea Station: Interior Design

Cockpit view of Submarine Safaris SL, San Miguel, TenerifeThe subject of Interior Design attracted more than 16.000 readers in the Underwater Station Forum on UnderwaterPromotion.com. The contributions are summarized here:

Introduction

The big advantage of our station is that it will be created from scratch. We are completely free to give it a look as we wish as long as we stay within the limitations of safety, which is, of course, the most important aspect. All materials should be carefully selected in terms of inflammability, predisposition for mould and stability. The second aspect is the functionality: all equipments should be easily accessible and usage should not be limited because of design preferences. The third group of aspects covers the habitability for long-term inhabitants and attractivity for potential visitors.  We have to agree on a colour and design scheme accordingly that should be followed.

Colour Schemes

Before we start to have a look at the different design line we should make clear that the colour scheme inside the station should be based on light and friendly colours to support long-term inhabitants feeling comfortable as soon as possible. It is a frequently appearing observation that Aquanauts are most nervous in their first three nights and start to feel comfortable after the fifth night. We also should keep in mind that we are surrounded by the blue of the ocean that starts to fade to grey after 20m depth while the amount of light reaching the bottom of the sea is drastically reduced. Therefore it is has no meaning to use a dark design and especially to use the colour BLUE inside the station. (still to be added: colour cards for different colour combinations like orange/white)

Design Schemes

Strictly Functional

There is another structure similar to an underwater station. It’s the International Space Station (ISS) designed strictly functional. In the end the ISS is a laboratory made for scientists only, although it accommodated the first space tourists already. What you do NOT find on the ISS is colour or any hint for comfortable habitability. Naturally every extra kilo to send to space costs a huge amount of money. On the other hand all of the astronauts spend weeks or even months inside the lab. For me it is a little surprising that the aspect of comfort seems that much insignificant. I would have thought of an equivalent of a two-persons lounge in warm colours beside a slightly larger window and a coffee-machine 🙂

We don’t have the problem of being forced to save weight (on the contrary: the heavier equipment, the less ballast). We do have to follow the safety and functionality issues, but still there is enough room for habitability. The undersea station might be designed for short-term stays in the first place, but long-term stays should be considered from the beginning. And especially in a claustrophobic environment like this the interior design plays a bigger role. Apart from that we still should keep in mind that we have to attract potential visitors who in most cases will not be scientists. Therefore a touch of artistic design is welcomed.  Unfortunately that rules out the Strictly Functional Design (with emphasis on ‘strictly’).

For a glimpse of the ISS design watch this tour from 2012:

Futuristic

In all attempts we should remember that the undersea station is not going to be part of a Disney World. Even if we have to attract potential visitors it does not mean that the interior design should be exaggerated or childish. If we talk about artistic design we actually mean artistic elements repeating on racks, furnitures and walls.

A futuristic design would reflect the opinion that people have of the future. Unfortunately this opinion is changing faster than ever. The way people imagined the future only 15 years ago started to differ already. Futuristic design also implements brand-new and clean equipments. If these equipments show the first signs of ageing the futuristic design looses its persuasiveness. As an example we could take the entrance of Aquarius lab that shows strong signs of corrosion that is inevitable in a salty and wet environment. Or take the design of Jule’s Undersea Lodge that was very futuristic once upon a time, but now looks a little nostalgic since the imagination of a possible future changed. Therefore I would recommend a healthy distance to this design line though futuristic elements might be considered.

Jules Verne or Steam Design

jules-verneThe Jules Verne, Victorian or Steam design might be a meaningful solution. We might characterize it with the usage of cast iron, rivets, copper and brass or at least the visual effect of it. Though the designs that first appeared in ‘20.000 Leagues under the Sea’ (1870) were meant as a statement of the future of long ago it is again fashionable as a Retro Future (see ‘Steam Punk’) and found its echo in several modern movies. Though the dominant colours are dark and depressing it would be appropriate for certain elements. This would not only be a tribute to an underwater visionary, but could also be used in parts of the surrounding underwater park like sculptures. I think this proposal is acceptable and we should consider to use the Steam design on several occasions in the station. (Still to be added: Organic/ergonomic Design)

Please feel free to tell us your opinion to these ideas or propose another via reply function.

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