Architect designs of Blue Abyss, the multi-million pound subsea, Space and life science training, research and testing center, have been revealed.
Behind the exciting facility’s sweeping design is eminent architect Robin Partington, whose work has shaped the greatest changes on London’s skyline.
Mr. Partington led the design team of London’s Gherkin for Foster & Partners, working alongside prolific architect Sir Norman Foster for 17 years, the high rise residential Strata Tower and is currently working on Westminster’s only skyscraper for the future, the 42-floor 1 Merchant Square in Paddington, now nicknamed the ‘Cucumber’, with his 50-strong team at Robin Partington & Partners (RPP).
Estimated to cost more than £65million, Blue Abyss is planned for completion and to be fully operational by the end of next year.
It will contain the world’s biggest training pool. At 50 meters deep with 41,000m3 volume complete with hyperbaric and hypobaric chambers, it will be capable of simulating challenging offshore environments.
With its poolside crane and opening roof, that allows up to 100-tons of equipment to be lifted and submerged into the pool, the expert team behind the facility is targeting the offshore renewables and oil and gas sectors as potential clients for training and testing for commercial diving, submersibles and drones.
With its dramatic glass-fronted façade, the pool lies at the heart of this unique building.
Its large lay-down areas, crane and associated handling and storage around the pool facility provides scope for multiple forms of deep sea training and testing.
Blue Abyss’ Kuehnegger Human Performance Centre for human life science sector clients and its microgravity suite for human spaceflight, will also be housed in the building.
Mr. Partington created Blue Abyss in a sweeping design with gentle curves and tail to reflect a “perfect harmony between sea and Space.”
Its shape resembles a horseshoe crab and a speeding comet created “to wrap around the people it serves”.
“Understanding how the different aspects of blue abyss work together and the problems you have to solve is very important, and helps to drive a design solution that makes the most efficient and effective use of space,” said Mr. Partington.”
The team behind Blue Abyss is currently in talks with the offshore wind and oil & gas industries about how Blue Abyss facilities could support and accelerate innovation in the industry and help it to meet the demands for cost reduction across the sector.
The East of England, and the UK has become a world leader for offshore wind with its strong and growing supply chain of companies, and are close to the facility’s planned site in Essex.
Blue Abyss will be able to replicate the challenges of tidal, wave and current conditions in the Southern North Sea in a safe and controlled environment, offering multiple opportunities for simulation, cable connection training, submersibles training and testing for offshore wind installation, oil & gas work scopes, decommissioning solutions, deep sea diving and even drone training.
Celia Anderson, of the Blue Abyss team, is talking with the supply chain companies about their needs to, improve their offer to the industry, improve their competitiveness in an increasingly competitive market and develop equipment and skills within Blue Abyss.
Such a facility in the East of England would cut costs for companies currently using deep pool and tank facilities in Fort William and on the south coast, she said.
There is huge pressure on offshore wind to bring down its costs and the companies involved are looking at every way to achieve that. Having a facility like blue abyss within easy travel distance of the east coast, with its huge potential to support innovation, fits into achieving these targets.
“Our clients can simulate the ROV installation of J tubes and connecting cables, changing bearings at the base of a turbine tower… the list is endless.”
The contained and controlled environment with pressure testing, is an ideal environment for research and development for subsea equipment, diver decompression and dry dives, she said.
Perfect conditions would also be offered for the testing of the likes of acoustic baffles or new equipment required to support activities in the deeper waters.
Blue Abyss would also offer a conference amphi-theatre and training rooms, a 120-bed hotel with large central community area and on-site parking at the University of Essex’s Knowledge Gateway Innovation Park.
The team is in the final stages of securing funding before seeking full planning consent for the site.