This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

March 5, 2014

Petropolis---Floating Oil City

In Southeast Asia, petroleum engineers are in such short supply that companies live in fear of having their valuable talent poached. One of the issues these companies face is housing for their offshore oil workers. Being away from their families for weeks at a time takes a toll on the workers' relationships. Another issue the newest discoveries are often just out of helicopter range.

The solution proposed by a group of senior architecture students at Rice University was so impressive that their project won the inaugural Odebrecht Award for Sustainable Development. Moreover, they attracted the attention of Brazilian oil company Petrobras, one of the world's largest oil companies. Their idea is to create huge floating cities on manmade islands in the ocean, off the East Coast of Brazil in the Atlantic---in effect a "Petropolis". This floating city project is the subject of a new book, "The Petropolis of Tomorrow".

42 smaller islands surround the island configuration features three large floating hub islands that; the project would house up to 25,000 workers and their families.

The design includes three types of islands: the hub islands might be as large as 1 kilometer by 2 kilometers [0.6 by 1.2 miles] and would be a mix of residential, office and industrial centers. These core floating spaces will be more like an urban space with the densest population, including apartments for workers and families, plus schools and office space. These smaller islands would provide the larger hubs with among other things, crops and electricity, through solar and wave power.

There would be a hospital, a commissary, office buildings and a desalination plant, as well as a beach with volleyball and soccer fields and also a swimming pool. The platform workers would be transported to and from the island hub by ferry. While this project is still in its early phase Petrobras hopes to build and have operational floating residential islands in the next five years.

Years ago, when the hotel design firm WAGT challenged architecture students to design "The Hotel of the Future", one of the winning designs capitalized on undersea scenery. This project is the first of many we will see, taking advantage of the location and environment of the oceans and their ecosystems.

Special thanks to National Public Radio's Morning Edition for bringing this innovation to our attention. View the video at

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