A Japanese construction company is planning a spherical underwater city

Image: Shimizu Corporation.

Underwater cities aren't actually that rare. There's Port Royal in Jamaica, submerged when it was hit by an earthquake in 1692. There's the ancient city of Dwarka, India, whose ruins were discovered in 2000. There's Atlantis, the most famous underwater city of all (location tbc).

But now the Shimizu Corporation, a Japanese construction company, is planning a city that will be underwater on purpose, rather than as the result of a natural catastrophe. And, naturally, they've designed it in the shape of a 500m sphere, connected to the ocean floor by a 15km spiral umbilical cord:

The aim is to install residential and business units in the main sphere, then use the base of the spiral as a research centre for scientists who would harness energy from sources on the ocean floor. One helpful side effect of this process would be oxygen, which is nice, as people do so like to breathe. According to Shimizu, the sphere could house up to 5,000 people and would be entirely self-sufficient.

The city would be accessible by the top of the sphere, which would float just above the water level in good weather, but could also sink by up to 2km below the surface. 

The scheme sounds a little outlandish (it's not clear, for example, what the 5,000 residents of this "self sufficient" environment would eat). But officials at the company claim the city could be built by 2030, for the low, low price of 3 trillion yen (£16bn).

Hideo Imamura, spokesman for the company, told the Guardian

“This is a real goal, not a pipe dream. The Astro Boy cartoon character had a mobile phone long before they were actually invented – in the same way, the technology and knowhow we need for this project will become available.”

Take that, ye of little faith.

All images: Shimizu Corporation 

 
 
 
 

Never mind Brexit: TfL just released new tube map showing an interchange at Camden Town!!!

Mmmmm tube-y goodness. Image: TfL.

Crossrail has just been given a £1bn bail out. This, according to the Financial TImes’s Jim Pickard, is on top of the £600m bailout in July and £300m loan in October.

That, even with the pound crashing as it is right now, is quite a lot of money. It’s bad, especially at a time when there is still seemingly not a penny available to make sure trains can actually run in the north.

But the world is quite depressing enough today, so let’s focus on something happier. On Saturday night – obviously peak time for cartographic news – Transport for London emailed me to let me know it would be updating the tube map, to show more street-level interchanges:

Connections between several pairs of stations that are near to each other, but have traditionally not been shown as interchanges, now appear on the map for the first time. These include:

  • Camden Road and Camden Town
  • Euston and Euston Square
  • Finchley Road and Finchley Road & Frognal
  • Kenton and Northwick Park
  • New Cross and New Cross Gate
  • Seven Sisters and South Tottenham
  • Swiss Cottage and South Hampstead

The stations shown meet a set of criteria that has been used to help determine which should be included. This criteria includes stations less than a 700m or a 10 minute walk apart, where there is an easy, well-lit, signposted walking route and where making the change opens up additional travel options.

The results are, well, this:

In addition, interchanges between stations have traditionally appeared on the Tube map as two solid lines, irrespective of whether they are internal or external (which means customers need to leave the station and then re-enter for the station or stop they need). This approach has now been updated and shows a clear distinction between the two types, with external interchanges now being depicted by a dashed line, linking the two stations or stops.

And lo, it came to pass:

I have slightly mixed feelings about this, in all honesty. On the positive side: I think generally showing useful street-level interchanges as A Good Thing. I’ve thought for years that Camden Road/Camden Town in particular was one worth highlighting, as it opens up a huge number of north-east travel options (Finchley to Hackney, say), and apps like CityMapper tell you to use it already.


And yet, now they’ve actually done it, I’m suddenly not sure. That interchange is pretty useful if you’re an able bodied person who doesn’t mind navigating crowds or crossing roads – but the map gives you no indication that it’s a harder interchange than, say, Wanstead Park to Forest Gate.

The new map also doesn’t tell you how far you’re going to be walking at street level. I can see the argument that a 400m walk shouldn’t disqualify something as an interchange – you can end up walking that far inside certain stations (Green Park, Bank/Monument), and the map shows them as interchanges. But the new version makes no effort to distinguish between 100m walks (West Hampstead) and 700m ones (Northwick Park-Kenton), which it probably should.

I’m also slightly baffled by some of the specific choices. Is Finchley Road-Finchley Road & Frognal really a useful interchange, when there’s an easier and more direct version, one stop up the line? No hang on West Hampstead isn’t on the Metropolitan line isn’t it? So that’s what it’s about.

Okay, a better one: if you’re switching from District to Central lines in the City, you’re generally better off alighting at Cannon Street, rather than Monument, for Bank – honestly, it’s a 90 second walk to the new entrance on Walbrook. Yet that one isn’t there. What gives?

The complete new tube map. The full version is on TfL’s website, here.

On balance, showing more possible interchanges on the map is a positive change. But it doesn’t negate the need for a fundamental rethink of how the tube map looks and what it is for. And it’s not, I fear, enough to distract from the Crossrail problem.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.