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Oil Rigs Are Dead! Long Live the Oil Rigs?!

Mary Catherine O'Connor | Wednesday March 18th, 2009 | 1 Comment

When you think about a luxury eco-lodge, you probably envision a majestic cabin nestled in a pristine forest, or a thatch-roof cabana on a white-sand beach. What you probably don’t envision is an abandoned oil rig that has been recycled into an offshore hotel. But that’s just the idea for which Morris Architects received the Society for American Registered Architects National Design Award of Excellence for its “radical innovation in hospitality.”
Whether this eco-lodge is radical or ridiculous remains to be seen – if and when the concept becomes a reality. But there’s no shortage of raw material for the project: the Gulf of Mexico is home to more than 4,000 oil rigs and they’re consistently running out of oil (right, that’s the problem with oil). Once a rig stops producing profitable quantities of oil, its producer must remove or reincarnate the structure within one year, according to a Department of Interior regulation. Once it’s tapped, producers either demolish and remove the rig, which is very costly and kills off the sea life that thrives on the underwater legs of the rig, or they remove the rig and place it into reuse as an artificial reef. Lots of resident sea life is killed during this removal process, too, but then the structure helps protect other sea life in its new role a reef.


Now, it seems, there is a third option. Morris’ proposal is for a structure that would rely on renewable energy sources (wind, wave energy perhaps?) while also catering to the well to-do. Think of it as a cruise ship, minus the ship and carnival, plus spas and plush organic everything.
But would oil rig chateaus really be sustainable? Much, if not most, of the food would be shipped in. Patrons would be shipped – or helicopter-ed – in, too. On the other hand, perhaps all that sea life thriving on the legs of the rig could swim through the process unfazed. Plus, if the rigs are already out there, why not use them?
What’s your take?
If the oil-rig-cum-lodge concept works, it will join a growing list of creative hotel concepts based Рin theory anyway Рon low-impact development. Swedish upstart Oscar Diös just opened a hostel inside the body of an old Boeing 747 at the Stockholm-Arlanda airport. This ingenious bunker offers a great way to stay near the airport on the cheap.
daspark.jpgAnd in the event that you’ve always wanted to called a culvert pipe home, now’s your chance. Austria’s Das Park Hotel provides a bed in a big’ole pipe. But don’t worry, there’s a window. And a bed. But that’s about it.


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  • Nick Aster

    I love the creativity that goes into ideas like this, but there’s no way that all the world’s rigs could ever be used to produce a massive boom in luxury tourism to the outer continental shelf. I’ll bet one or two could be used in such ways, the rest are going to have to be dismantled or sunk.
    I’ll bet there’s a big demand, however, for research facilities for a few dozen – donate them to universities and use them for oceanic research. Finally, and this comes with its own problems, but presumably you could use some as anchor facilities for fish farming – if you could solve the antibiotic and pollution problems then you could probably set up really huge farms in otherwise scantily populated ocean areas and do a fair bit toward feeding the world.