In this two-week workshop, your mission is to design a biomimetic structural organism that will function as an underwater habitat.



Ocean colonisation is the theory and practice of permanent human settlement of oceans. Such settlements may be floating on the surface of the water, or exist as underwater habitats secured to the ocean floor, or in an intermediate position. In different countries across the world there are about 10 enterprises seriously engaged in ocean urbanisation research and development. They are a mix of academic bodies, architecture firms, libertarian venture capitalists and municipal governments, with diverse visions for ocean settlements (

For further information on Underwater exploration projects, please visit

Mission Aquarius,


Jules’ Undersea Lodge,




In this two-week workshop, your mission is to design a biomimetic structural organism that will function as a habitat for the first colonizers underwater. This will obviously be different from a typical land based structure, not only one that can withstand underwater conditions, but a stand-alone organism that may grow, move freely, reproduce and/or exterminate itself. The habitable space(s) should be formed in accordance with the geographical and climatological conditions of underwater environments. In this context, modes and durations of basic human needs such as eating and sleeping as well as social needs should be considered and spaces should be designed accordingly.



During the workshop, you will work in groups of six and share the workload of various tasks such as research, sketching, technical drawing, digital modelling and model making. The workshop will start with a biomimetic process. After an introduction to biomimicry in architecture, each group will be assigned a plant or an animal that lives underwater. Your first task is to research and analyse your particular plant or animal. Then you are asked to design a unique organism that does not simply resemble it but will mimic and interpret its structural formation. You should present your design idea by sketches, diagrams, sketch and development models, etc. In the following stages, you will make digital parametric models of your design by using specific software such as Rhino, Grasshopper and special plug-ins, and also produce physical models by using digital fabrication techniques (laser cutting and 3D printing).



  • To develop visionary ideas about architectural formations in extreme environments
  • To improve digital drawing and modelling skills
  • To introduce biomimicry as an approach to architectural design and to understand the complex relationship between form and structure


Please ensure that this workshop does not simply promote underwater human colonization. In view of the ecological damage created on Earth by people, you may be completely against such an attempt. In light of current trends of space making, the aim to is to satisfy the objectives outlined above.






Michael Pawlyn (2011). Chapter 1: How can we build more efficient structures? Biomimicry in Architecture, RIBA Publishing, 9-35.



An underwater site clearly differs from a land based site in terms of context. However, multiple satellite images and bathymetric maps show us various terrestrial landforms underwater similar to those on land.

In this workshop, each group is given a site of 400 x 400 m from the 3D map at the website and make a 1/1000 topographical model of that site within the boundaries of which your structural organism will emerge, extend and move.



On 26 February Monday @17:00, you are required to submit the following:

  • 1/1000 Site Model of 40 x 40 cm. showing your organism on site (the actual design should be 3D-printed and the site should be produced as a topographical map made out of 2 mm layers of grey cardboard).
  • 1/200 Partial Model showing a living unit, module or cell.
  • Digital rendered images showing your organism, its relation to the surrounding context from various angles
  • Series of diagrams and sketches showing the transformation of the organism
  • Upload your digital model to Sketchfab and provide the link on the presentation board.
  • Google cardboard or 3D box glasses

** All the drawings, sketches, diagrams, images should be presented on a single board in 50 x 100 cm size and be uploaded on the workshop webpage, under the “Student Works” section.


Last year’s workshop products are available at: