Physalia – A positive energy amphibious garden to clean European waterways

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Eco Factor: Renewable energy generating amphibious garden to clean waterways.

The UN estimates that rising at the current rate, population will soar to about 9.2 billion in 2050. However, even today more than one billion people don’t have access to potable water and more than 3,000 people die every day due to the lack of clean drinking water.


Vincent Callebaut Architects have come up with a solution in the form of a floating garden that is 100% self-sufficient in terms of energy. Dubbed the Physalia, the amphibious garden is inspired by pneumatophorous called the “Physalia physalis,” which means “water bubble”.

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This aquatic system is a sum of nature and biotechnologies designed to navigate European rivers between the Danube and Volga, between Rhine and Guadalquivir, or also between Euphrates and Tiger. The zero carbon emission architecture is designed to harvest renewable energy to make the prototype a positive energy one, where it can generate more energy that it consumes.

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The roof of the Physalia features a double pneumatic membrane equipped with smooth photovoltaic solar cells. Under its hull are hydro-turbines that transform the energy of the fluvial stream into hydroelectricity. The surface of the structure is made of aluminum-covered steel. This is then covered with a layer of TiO2 that reacts to ultraviolet rays to clean water.

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The chemical and carbonated waste that is rejected by traditional boats and industries is also absorbed by the Physalia. Moreover, the amphibious garden is crossed in its double hull by a hydraulic network that enables to filter the fluvial water and to purify it biologically by the systems planted roof.

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The “Water Garden” marks the main entrance of the Physalia. The heart of the structure constitutes the “Earth Garden,” which is dedicated to international researchers who analyze the aquatic ecosystem crossed by the vessel. The structure also features a “Fire Garden” that is a confined and protecting underwater lounge and an “Air Garden,” which is space of oxygen and light that spreads under a pneumatophorous lens. This area opens toward the exterior landscape, toward the cities organized with chisels under an oblong ear of pneumatic and photovoltaic cushions.

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Via: Vincent Callebaut Architects