Dezeen Magazine

Iceberg-making submarine aims to tackle global warming by re-freezing the Arctic

A team of designers led by Faris Rajak Kotahatuhaha proposes re-freezing sea water in the Arctic to create miniature modular icebergs using a submarine-like vessel, in a bid to combat climate change.

The Indonesian designer worked on the prototype with collaborators Denny Lesmana Budi and Fiera Alifa for an international competition organised by the Association of Siamese Architects.

The team was awarded second prize in the contest for its geoengineering proposal to re-freeze the Arctic and transform sea water into new ice fields.

Refreeze the Arctic geoengineering project by Faris Rajak Kotahatuhaha
The designers propose a series of submarine-like vessels to create miniature icebergs

Kotahatuhaha's team set out to create a prototype for the "re-iceberg-isation" of parts of the Arctic by freezing seawater into hexagonal blocks of ice that nest together to form new ice floes.

"The main goal of this idea is to restore the polar ecosystem, which has a direct effect on the balance of the global climate," said the designer, adding that in this scenario "it is better to prevent than cure".

The concept is a proactive response to issues related to the melting of the earth's polar ice. The designers felt that too much emphasis is currently being placed on protecting cities from rising sea-levels rather than tackling the problem at its source.

In New York City, architecture firm BIG is working on a large-scale flood defence system to protect Lower Manhattan from tidal surges, while Hassell and MVRDV have proposed a series of measures designed to protect San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area from the encroaching ocean.

Refreeze the Arctic geoengineering project by Faris Rajak Kotahatuhaha
Sea water would be collected in hexagonal tanks before freezing

The submarine-like vessel would submerge to collect sea water in a central hexagonal tank. Turbines would then be used to blast the tank with cold air and accelerate the freezing process.

During this process, the vessel would return to the surface of the sea and the tank would be covered to protect it from sunlight. A system of reverse osmosis would be used to filter some of the salt from the water in order to speed up the process.

Once the water is frozen, the vessel would submerge again, leaving behind an "ice baby" with a volume of 2,027 cubic-metres. These miniature icebergs would then cluster together in a honeycomb pattern to form a larger ice floe.

Refreeze the Arctic geoengineering project by Faris Rajak Kotahatuhaha
Kotahatuhaha suggests that underwater hotels could help fund the project

Multiple vessels could be used to continuously repeat the process and gradually rebuild the ice caps.

The submarines would be large enough to accommodate additional functions like polar research centres and underwater hotels that Kotahatuhaha suggested could help to fund the project.

Other radical proposals developed in response to rising sea levels include a series of giant floating umbrellas that could also help to replenish Arctic ice shelves, and a method for aiding the growth of beaches and islands in vulnerable coastal regions.