The 8th continent is an award-winning design that restores ocean health and recycles plastic along the way.
Senior designer at Zaha Hadid Architects in London, Lenka Petráková, developed the idea for her student master thesis a few years ago after having studied ocean pollution. "I realised how destroyed the oceans are and how many species are extinct, how much pollution is there, and that the parts that may have never seen a human being, feel the effects of our activities," she says.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, at least 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the sea every year. And a some of this plastic ends up in our food, and then in our body. Petráková reworked her ideas a few months ago and the final concept has just scooped her the 2020 Grand Prix award for architecture and innovation of the sea, at the competition launched by Foundation Jacques Rougerie.
The designer was inspired by marine life when coming up with her project. She created the floating station to be a "living organism that is fully self-sustainable," she says. Whilst 'floating station' is a rather better description than the '8th continent' - mostly because of its comparatively diminutive size - it's the concept that really counts.
"I was looking into marine species, animals as well as plants. And I was studying how they really interact with water environments, how they can harvest energy and how they work with nutritions, for example."
Her idea was not only to design a concept that cleans the ocean but one that also restores its health. The station removes plastic from the sea and houses research and education facilities as well as an ocean plastic recycling centre. It produces its own energy and is equipped with greenhouses and desalination centres.
Let's hope it sets sail soon.
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