A Griffith University design team is bringing a bold research and development vision to life on the water, along with the niche architectural field of ‘aquatecture’.

Professor Joerg Baumeister and research assistant Nikki Findlay from Griffith’s School of Architecture and Design and Cities Research Institute are behind the design and innovation of Sea Manta, a proposed 60m long recreational and ecological structure that they’ve classed as a form of aquatecture.

“Sea Manta is a floating dive and recreation structure — half above water, half below water,” Professor Baumeister said.

“Above water are interactive aquarium displays, a kitchen, bar, dive shop and swimming pool, while under water houses an artificial reef and dive experience.”

The researchers developed a prototype to test the stability and feasibility of the structure after a Qatar-based client approached Professor Baumeister to design a structure that could be anchored to the seabed as a recreation and eco- attraction for residents and tourists.

Ms Findlay began working on the design as an undergraduate student at Griffith and said the chance to develop the structure now as a Research Assistant was a unique opportunity to benefit tourism and the environment.

“It’s given me a lot more perspective on the situation facing our coral reefs, so it’s been a wonderful opportunity to hopefully educate the public in an interactive but also economically viable way,” she said.

Professor Baumeister emphasised Sea Manta’s suitability to be adapted for implementing as a tourist and resident attraction for Australian coastal cities, particularly the Gold Coast, with its strong tourism focus.

The unveiling of Sea Manta coincides with the launch of SeaCities, a research group founded by Professor Baumeister in 2019 within Griffith’s Cities Research Institute that will generate research-based and solution-directed approaches to develop water-adapted cities and floating structures.

Professor Baumeister is an internationally awarded architect who has been a practitioner, educator, researcher and consultant for architecture and urban design for more than 20 years throughout Europe, Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Asia, and Australia.