fuseproject
Index Award 2021 Finalists
PROTEUS
A futuristic under-water research station

What’s the design in a nutshell?
An “underwater version of the International Space Station” that'll be a working-home for aquanauts to study the oceans like never before.

Why is it needed?
Our oceans are in a dire state and we frankly need them to survive. About 95% of the ocean is unexplored and without further knowledge, there’s only so much we can do to stem the damage and try to turn back the clock. Ocean exploration can help us understand both how we’re affecting and being affected by changes in Earth’s environment. These insights can help us better understand and respond to earthquakes, tsunamis, and other hazards. They can also reveal new sources for medical therapies and vaccines, food, energy, as well as inspire inventions that mimic adaptations of deep-sea animals. 

How does it work?
PROTEUS will enable unprecedented research on the oceans by enabling scientists to live, explore, and analyse uninterrupted for extended periods. The habitat will be three to four times the size of any previously built submarine habitats, accommodating up to twelve people at once. 

Attached to the ocean floor by legs designed to adapt to the variable terrain, the centre is based on the concept of a spiral. A series of modular pods are attached to the main body of PROTEUS to accommodate labs, bedrooms, bathrooms, medical bays, life support systems and storage. The central spaces will provide comfort, foster social connection and professional collaboration.

Two of the biggest challenges to staying underwater for longer periods are social isolation and lack of natural light. PROTEUS is designed to gather as much light as possible from windows, on the top, and around the sides of the structure.

"Ocean exploration has already revealed many compounds, such as pain relief and cancer treatments."

How does it improve life?
PROTEUS will be a research centre to serve global science and research institutions, attract entrepreneurs and inventors, as well as educate students of all ages. The research could not only teach about the state of our oceans but reveal key findings to advance sustainability efforts, food security, and other medical discoveries. Of particular interest for the project is to encourage pharmaceutical research and drug discovery. Ocean exploration has already revealed many compounds, such as pain relief and cancer treatments, which have been derived from various marine animals.

What’s the impact to date or planned impact?
The habitat will take three years to complete and be located 60 feet underwater in a marine protected area off the coast of Curaçao, an island in the Caribbean Sea. Once built and installed, an estimated 500 visitors are expected to come to Curaçao annually for multi-week stays to support research and media activities around PROTEUS. 

PROTEUS will also contain a state-of-the-art production studio enabling the international profile of Curaçao to be further raised through worldwide live streaming of educational programming and content from both inside the station and the beautiful waters of Curaçao.