New York aquarium concept features transparent biomes

  • Called Aquatrium, the innovative concept comprises a submerged aquarium with transparent bubbles and tanks
  • It recently won a speculative competition aimed at generating discussion about a vacant parcel of land in Queens
  • Renderings show whale sharks, manta rays and sharks inside tanks in the submerged section of the aquarium

This futuristic aquarium features marine life in transparent biomes, tanks filled with sea creatures, an iceberg and a planetarium – and it’s submerged in New York’s East River.

Called Aquatrium, the innovative concept comprises a submerged aquarium, an island and a public park, although it’s not likely to become the Big Apple’s next big tourist attraction.

It won a speculative competition aimed at generating ideas and discussion about a vacant parcel of land and basin in the Long Island City section of Queens.

Called Aquatrium, the innovative concept comprises a submerged aquarium with an atrium displaying eight transparent bubbles

Called Aquatrium, the innovative concept comprises a submerged aquarium with an atrium displaying eight transparent bubbles

The futuristic aquarium would be submerged in New York's East River on a currently vacant parcel of land and basin in of Queens

The futuristic aquarium would be submerged in New York's East River on a currently vacant parcel of land and basin in of Queens

Renderings show whale sharks, manta rays and sharks inside the tanks in the submerged section of the two-level aquarium

Renderings show whale sharks, manta rays and sharks inside the tanks in the submerged section of the two-level aquarium

Aquatrium was designed by a team led by Italian architect and designer Piero Lissoni, head of Lissoni Architettura, and submitted in a competition held by Arch Out Loud.

Renderings show visitors gathered in an outdoor atrium at river level and surrounded by eight large bubbles, or biomes, containing vegetation and other marine life.

The aquarium has a retractable roof and is linked to the island by a boardwalk that surrounds the basin.

When the roof is closed, the atrium becomes a planetarium.

The aquarium has a retractable roof that, when closed, converts the cavernous atrium into a planetarium

The aquarium has a retractable roof that, when closed, converts the cavernous atrium into a planetarium

With stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, the atrium is linked to the island and shore by a boardwalk that surrounds the basin

With stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, the atrium is linked to the island and shore by a boardwalk that surrounds the basin

The atrium would hold one biome each for the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Southern oceans and the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Tasman and Red seas.

The North and South poles would be represented by an iceberg in the centre of the atrium.

In addition to amazing sea creatures, visitors can admire stunning views of the Manhattan skyline from the two-level island.

Renderings show whale sharks, manta rays and sharks inside the tanks in the submerged section of the aquarium.

The aquarium and park would be located at the Eleventh Street Basin, an inlet across from Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island

The aquarium and park would be located at the Eleventh Street Basin, an inlet across from Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island

The aquarium and park would be located at the Eleventh Street Basin, a 550-ft long artificial inlet across from Four Freedoms Park at the bottom tip of Roosevelt Island.

Lissoni said: ‘Our project creates a dynamic system that interacts with its surroundings, offering multiple ways to experience the water world represented by eight triple-height transparent biomes.’

He added: ‘The main idea is to generate an environment whereby visitors feel that they themselves are entering the water to discover the beauty of the marine life on display – a living shell that opens to the sky during the day to reveal the sea worlds and which closes as darkness falls to take on a “second life” as a planetarium, protecting the arena and the biome domes within, like a shell protects the pearl.’ 

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