This research center is straight out of a science fiction movie

If you stay up to date on green design and architecture, you read a lot of posts about futuristic designs where no poster (except maybe the original designer) seems to have a clue whether the “project” has an actual client with a budget or is simply a designer playing computer games with his or her fantasies.

Yesterday I posted about an aquarium building that looks like a designer’s hallucination, but in fact was completed and opened to the public a month ago. Today I venture to the other extreme. I’ll tell you right up front that construction of this futuristic concept will not commence any time soon—but it’s cool enough to be worth talking about. This is the Amazon Research Network concept, posted on Designboom by Estudio Arkiz in São Paulo.

Research station with two nomad vessels docked and one just having sailed. Rendering via Estudio Artiz.

It has two main kinds of components, both of them afloat on brown Amazonian water: twin-hulled, sail-driven “nomad” research vessels; and large hub-like ports for those vessels. These “stations” would house bigger research labs and energy systems that don’t fit easily on the vessels.

Research station side view; the overlapping layers and the rotating wind cowl increase natural ventilation. Via Estudio Artiz.

Both components have solar panels, but the catamarans don’t have enough to sustain all their power needs, and would come back to the station to refuel after seven days or less. The stations, in addition to much bigger solar arrays (the entire roof) would have methane-producing waste digesters.

The principal material is said to be “local wood,” but steel, aluminum, and of course lots of solar panels are also mentioned.

Doubled-hulled (catamaran) research vessel in exploded view. Via Estudio Artiz.

Arkiz suggests that the catamarans could, alternatively, be floating clinics serving the riverbank populace. That’s a sensible option to offer, since this project would obviously need to start out by searching for charitable donors.

Regardless of whether they are primarily engaged in research or in clinical medicine, the architects see the boats “maintaining a presence that would deter criminal activity” such as the “forest burning, illegal lumbering, and biopiracy [that] increasingly threaten the existence of the delicate ecosystem.” Sounds like we could use a lot of them.

A scene from daily life on the Amazon Research Newtork. Rendering via Estudio Artiz.