Nemo’s Tentorium: Organic City
- Isabella Iacinschi
Nemo’s Tentorium is a speculative floating mobile city designed as an alternative to land-based societies. Inspired by Jules Verne’s character, Captain Nemo (‘Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea’), a man with a deep love for the ocean and knowledge, the project is set to continue his extraordinary journey, which began within the pages of a 19th century book.
Using Verne’s fictional submarine, the Nautilus, as an architectural precedent, the Tentorium is introduced as a missing link, synthesising ocean life with architecture, thus becoming entirely sustainable; a true marine organism.
Through the use of biomimicry, certain natural capabilities are harvested, mimicked and incorporated into the city’s technological aspect. Evolutionary traits and unique abilities such as bioluminescence, hydrophobicity, camouflage, temperature stabilising, and respiratory advancements help shape the Tentorium. These strategies are applied to the overall form and structure, with nature providing ingenuous solutions for situations such as floating, moving, hiding and submerging. With the form and pattern of a lily pad-jellyfish hybrid, the city can easily stay afloat, and swim with the help of thin tentacles, that act as nematocysts for potential threats. Leaf-like structures scattered across the city store potable water through rain collection, while their exposed vascular system can expand to hermetically seal the city when submerged.
In order to preserve knowledge, thousands of silk-like cocoons made from seaweed fibre and agar, protect valuable information engraved on bone, and pearls. This strategy is inspired by the diving-bell spider, and its unique malleable and hydrophobic silk. Alongside the cocoon archive, a multitude of mechanisms, each acting as a fundamental cell, are designed around a nucleus reminiscent of a specific biological function, process or system. Certain cells use pigments, such as cephalopod ink, algae and seaweed extracts for camouflage and communication, jellyfish mass for bioluminescence, while others are responsible for powering the city, by transforming algae into biofuel, through sunlight and heat exposure.
Nemo’s Tentorium relies on a constant whale pod that provides the city with construction material, protection, and ultimately nourishment. Blubber repels water from entering the city, and alongside sea sponges is used as insulation. The whale chambers are crucial elements, providing safe areas, oxygen, and nourishments, particularly designed for weaker members of the pod that cannot reach the surface for air. The chambers are connected to air pockets located within the membrane of the city that act similar to whale lungs, compressing themselves to allow submersion.
Similar to the whale, the city is set to continue exploring the oceans until its demise. After its fall, the city will become host to complex ecosystems and supply deep-sea creatures with nourishments for decades.
As an architectural ode to one of the greatest writers of all times, Nemo’s Tentorium explores the vast world of the seven seas, becoming a fully functional organism of the ocean. This modern Atlantis, untouched and uncorrupted by terrestrial life will follow a completely different evolutionary path, developing its own architectural, and technological interventions, and in time its own ecosystem.