Project Brief: Ocean Transport Systems The year is 2146. The increasing effects of climate change have led to rising global temperatures. In addition to wide areas of equatorial land becoming too hot to support life, the ice caps and glaciers across the

With several regions still unsafe to re-occupy due to radiation remaining from nuclear power station meltdowns, the majority of the world’s energy is now sourced from renewable sources. Most oceanic energy comes from geothermal sources deep in the ocean beds, harvested in highly pressurized, protected dome facilities. This energy fuels industry and business, while residential energy is generated from tidal power farms and massive floating solar arrays.

The older nations have fragmented and recombined, creating new joint oceanic nations. Their populations are distributed across a network of pressurized undersea cities – domes on the ocean floor, mainly given over to power generation and heavy industry; residential habitats based underwater and some distance offshore, to minimize the effects of the continuing storm patterns – these habitats also are generally linked with aquatic food farming and service industries. Finally, on the surface, clinging to the final remnants of island archipelagoes, or the ruins of the great coastal cities of the past, are the frontiers of the new civilizations- trading posts with the remaining land-bound populations, centres for land-based agriculture, and offering tourism and heritage sites highlighting the best (and worst) of the old world. Piracy and black markets are rife in these frontier communities that survive through creative repurposing of salvage in the face of humanitarian crisis. Civil unrest is common, and there is an active insurgency.


Given the nature of these new nations, high-speed and reliable transport systems have become an essential part of the infrastructure. The lower populations coupled with clean renewable energy sources mean that the habitats have been linked with high-speed mag-lev lines, protected within high-tensile transparent tubes that allow the passengers to look out at the surrounding ocean as they pass through and above it.

As the Complex-Maglev International Subsea Transport network (C-MIST) is such a central aspect of everyday life, each nation has chosen to celebrate its heritage in the appearance of the trains, carriages and the station areas themselves. The transit tubes are large enough to accommodate non-standard extensions and modifications to the standard transit train. A side effect of the improved maglev technology has meant that heat is generated within the train’s magnetic coils during travel[1] – this has been harnessed to provide an updated steam power source for use within the train for ancilliary power usage (lights, catering, entertainment, onboard systems). The resulting train designs therefore resemble the advanced tech, steampunk designs often depicted in early 21stcentury popular literature.


Workshop 1: Design exercise – Maglev train

Your first task is to design a modified Maglev train suitable for one of the new oceanic communities. While the basis of the train should be similar to the model that will be demonstrated in the first course workshop, you should develop your version to show the heritage of your assigned community. (You will be split into groups, and each group will be assigned one of the new oceanic communities to inspire their designs).

The basic Maglev train is based on the Japanese L0 series, and consists of one ‘engine’ car and two ‘passenger’ cars. The engine car accommodates 24 passengers,  is 28m long, with a nose section of 15m which improves aerodynamics and reduces noise in the transit tunnel. The passenger cars are each 24m long and seat 68 passengers, in rows of 4 seats across. The connecting flexible linking sections are 0.5m long. The cars are 4m high and 4m wide. The bottom 1.25m of the cars incorporate the maglev mechanisms, and run across a double rail system in the transit tunnels – these are simple 6m diameter circular tubes, with transparent walls, so from the outside the main items visible in the unoccupied tunnels are the central rails and regularly spaced support frames.


Design and model your train, based on your initial design idea – you can modify this as necessary during the design process. You should include clearly defined door and connection sections, two doors on each side of the passenger carriages, starting at 5m in from the end, and one starting at 5m in from the rear end of the engine car. Your design for these can be incorporated into the overall style and aesthetic of your total design.

Your design should be inspired by the oceanic community setting, the high-tech steampunk aesthetic, and the ‘inheritance’ of your assigned community – imagine what might have been preserved as cultural heritage from existing coastal civilisations and how that may have been corrupted and altered with the passage of disasters and time, along with further artistic creativity and adaptation. There is an appreciation for mechanical experimentation, even if not necessarily essential to the main function of the mechanism – intricate door closing and locking mechanisms are often on show. The trains are a bold statement of the cultural aspirations of these new cultures, and should be regarded as iconic structures.

You are required to submit images of the train in profile (viewing it straight on from the front), in elevation (straight on from the side) and plan (straight down to see the top), as well as 7-8 views in perspective. These images should be HD, 1920 x 1080px JPG or PNG format. Your perspective views should include one image showing the train in its entirety – the others can show alternate angles (in which case indicate which shot is the ‘main’ view), concentrate on individual cars, or close-up images of specific details which may otherwise be difficult to see. It is useful (but not required) to submit the Maya project files along with the images, partly because sometimes markers like to navigate round your models in Maya to give you additional advice, and partly because the file gets backed up for you!

You are also required to submit a short report of guide length 750 words (PDF ONLY) outlining the project goals and inspirations, and any problems, solutions or interesting points encountered along the way. You might also use this report to clarify or explain details on how the train operates, and include links to any third party materials that may have been used.

The report should also contain a brief appraisal/critique of the project, with suggestions as to how, with hindsight, the project may have been improved and how it could be developed in the future.

Subject matter for this appraisal might include references to design theory, for example pointing to examples of emphasis, contrast, repetition (and progression), texture, colour, mass, balance (symmetry), harmony (unity, variety, consonance, dissonance), proportion and scale. You could include screenshots or images as part of this report. You don’t need to address all these factors, but they are worth considering in your work.

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