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Utopian Architect Plans a Floating City Shaped Like a Manta Ray

French architect Jacques Rougerie imagines the future of oceanographic research.
July 28, 2015, 2:15pm
© Créations Jacques Rougerie.

Jacques Rougerie is a self-described “pragmatic dreamer,” whose imagination seems to know no bounds: Throughout his 43-year career, the French architect has produced radical designs for land, sea, and space. In a December 2014 interview with the radio station France Inter, Rougerie declares assertively that he is mérien, a term all his own that translates roughly as “ocean-ite,” or “one belonging to the sea.” He tells the station: “I feel very, very good underwater. I feel different. Another type of imagination is awakened in me as soon as I am underwater.” It's a whole population of these like-minded individuals that he imagines aboard his City of Mériens, whose renderings depict a giant, floating Manta ray.

This “university city,” nearly 3,000 feet long and 1,600 feet wide, would house 7,000 international researchers, professors and students for extended stays. Inside one would find a vast network of classrooms, lecture halls, laboratories, living quarters and dedicated areas for leisure and sports. Designed to be completely sustainable and autonomous, it would run on renewable marine energy and produce zero waste. Its inner lagoon would welcome vessels conducting oceanographic research, including Rougerie’s revolutionary ocean skyscraper SeaOrbiter, which is currently in production.

After flipping through his extensive portfolio of underwater habitats, spacecraft, and coastal research centers, it would surprise no one that Rougerie has been inspired since childhood by the writings of Jules Verne, whose 19th-century adventure novels read as early science fiction. And if we consider the author’s motto, “Anything one man can imagine, other men can make real,” it may be that the 70 year-old Rougerie hopes only to pass the torch, and inspire younger generations to tackle the production of his beloved city of sea-dwellers.

See more of Jacques Rougerie's work on his website.


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