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5 Incredible, Reinvented Oil Rigs

by Jones Oil

Skeletal, industrial and perched way out to sea, oil rigs are hardly the most inspiring of structures. And when they’ve served their purpose, they become not only obsolete, but desolate.  An offshore platform is only useful as long as the reservoir beneath it is yielding a profitable amount of oil. After that, it’s abandoned – and must be dismantled quickly. But in recent years, innovative designers, environmentalists and architects have started to see the potential of a structure standing smack, bang in the middle of the ocean. The results: some very clever ideas – and a possible brand new lease of life for the world’s thousands of disused rigs. Here are some of our favourites…

1. A Home for Marine Life

When rigs have been deserted like ghost towns at sea, often life is raging on beneath them. In tropical waters, the tall, metal ‘risers’ that hold up an oil rig usually become coated in coral and sponge, making the perfect home for fish and other sea creatures. In Qatar, the high number of fish living around rigs attracts endangered whale sharks. In the USA, meanwhile, the idea of reefs as rigs is hotly debated: whilst there’s no denying that platforms make great habitat for artificial reefs, many people argue that they should still be removed for safety reasons. Nationwide programs such as ‘Rigs-to-Reefs’ aim to protect decommissioned rigs so that marine life can thrive. These awe-inspiring photographs show how nature can bloom on an industrial relic…

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2. An Out-there Address

Imagine: a luxurious home with a cooling sea breeze and far-reaching ocean views. That’s what you’d get if you bought one of these unique apartments. Sadly, they don’t exist yet – but that doesn’t mean they never will: Malaysian architects Ku Yee Kee and Hor Sue-Wern won an award for their entry into a 2011 skyscraper competition. Their vision sees former oil platforms transformed into luxurious apartment blocks, complete with infinity pools, breathtaking vistas and helipads. The eco-friendly plans also include solar panels, wind farms and subaqua spaces for marine biology research. With their remote locations, these homes would being a whole new meaning to the term ‘getting away from it all’.

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3. A Stunning Place to Holiday

Picture checking into this luxurious resort: surrounded by crystal clear seas, with water sports on tap and one heck of a rooftop pool. In 2009, these audacious designs won Morris Architects a $10,000 prize for Radical Innovation in Hospitality. Their proposal sees a decommissioned oil rig reinvigorated as a plush holiday resort, complete with palm trees, glossy lobby and spa. Holidaymakers have always loved hotels with sea views; this would take that concept to the next level – and transform an industrial eyesore into a thing of beauty. Although the plans haven’t come into fruition just yet, with many redundant rigs peppering the popular Gulf of Mexico, perhaps they’ll be a reality in the not-too-distant future…

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4. An Awesome Diving Base

Oil rig apartments and hotels might not have happened just yet, but the Seaventures Dive Rig means you can check-in offshore. The five star PADI accredited diving centre, located between Borneo, The Philippines and Indonesia, offers its guests basic accommodation and a unique diving experience. The ex rig boasts panoramic sea views, karaoke, Wi-Fi access and thrice daily dives to discover the incredible marine life. The all inclusive packages get guests food, accommodation, equipment hire, transfers and dives. Reviews state that whilst the accommodation is hardly luxurious, the unique location makes Seaventures a dream-come-true for die-hard divers. So far, it’s the world’s only dive rig, but judging by its success, there may be others on the way.

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5. A Quirky Bolthole

If you’re looking for a taste of oil rig accommodation but aren’t a scuba diving enthusiast, perhaps you could book a stay in one of these cool little pods. OK, they’re not actual oil rigs, but they do make very clever use of disused oil rig escape pods. The creation of ‘garbage architect’ Denis Oudendijk, the UFO-esque rooms come complete with knot-tying instructions and flare guns. Each pod at the ‘Capsule Hotel’ sleeps up to three. They can be found along canals in Amsterdam and in a surfing community in The Hague.

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