Gunter Pauli was taken aback by the quiet onboard his solar-powered ship, the MS Porrima, during his first few days at sea.
“There’s silence when there’s no engine operating.” In a phone conversation, the Belgian entrepreneur and economist added, “There’s a great sense of amazement and tenacity, and you have a lot of time on your hands to ponder.” “There’s a distinct sense of, ‘Oh my God, I’m vulnerable — I best utilise what I have carefully,'” says the author.
The Porrima, a concept boat focusing on environmental research that attempts to highlight how sustainable technology might improve the maritime sector, is built on the principle of successfully utilising limited resources.
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The ship set off from Osaka, Japan on December 18 with a small crew, and is anticipated to make dozens of stops across five continents. It will return to Japan in time for the 2025 World Expo after a three-year circumnavigation cruise.
Inspirations for artistic design
The ship is a model of environmental stewardship. Below deck, Pauli may grow delicious spirulina algae and mushrooms on a tiny farm, while air bubble nets prevent overfishing by sorting fish by weight and releasing the reproductive females, which are heavier owing to their eggs. The yacht will soon be fitted with a filter that collects and concentrates nanoplastics from saltwater and turns them into hydrogen fuel, in addition to being primarily powered by solar panels.
When it comes to conveying Porrima’s environmental message, Pauli feels that design characteristics on board the 118-foot-long, 79-foot-wide ship are equally as vital as green energy generation.
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The VIP suite and the main hall of the Porrima were designed using an eclectic combination of Russian matryoshka dolls, Japanese origami, and Swiss Army knives as inspiration.
Because of the restricted space on board, the dolls inspired a series of storage solutions that slide and fit within one other to conserve space. Meanwhile, the intricate nature of origami is mirrored in a variety of shelving units, seating places, and tables that can fold into walls like drawers. Finally, the versatile main hall, which can be changed into a classroom, exhibition area, library, or dining hall, reflects the Swiss Army knife’s versatility.
These three inspirations may appear to be distinct at first glance, but according to Pauli, they are linked by the efficient and innovative use of limited resources. He said that he took concepts from each to “alter” the Porrima’s internals.
“The ship is a small package of useful things all rolled into one,” Pauli explained. But, he noted, it is also influenced by art.
Pauli based his design on Michelangelo Pistoletto’s concept of the “Third Paradise,” which advocates a harmonious confluence of nature and technology, believing that “a great artist is a tremendous antenna in society.” In turn, the 88-year-old Italian artist, who talked to CNN as well, feels that the ship provides “the possibility” of realising his vision.
“The climate problem is the scenario we find ourselves in as a result of the progress of our technology,” Pistoletto stated over the phone. “But the more we are free, the more we advance, the more we must be responsible.” “Art is the combination of autonomy and responsibility,” says the author.
Several artists, including Pistoletto, will have work on exhibit within the ship, which he describes as “the reintegration of technology into nature.”
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The idea was driven by Pauli’s feeling of responsibility for the environment and the communities that face the weight of unsustainable behaviours. “We’ve done too much analysis (on environmental concerns), and too much analysis leads to paralysis.” I realised that whatever we’re doing is not just falling short of what’s required, but also of what’s achievable.
He stated, “We can’t merely improve on what we have.” “Imagining the next thing requires your attention and creativity, and the next thing cannot just be an improvement.” As a result, I decided to start working on projects that were thought to be unattainable.”
The mission is to educate.
The Porrima’s three-year journey is around interactive education. Pauli aims to engage with members of the public, academics, and industry leaders at many of the ship’s visits throughout the world while teaching them about the ship’s design. When converted into a school, the main hall will be utilised to teach youngsters about the inventions on board in the hopes of inspiring future generations.
Pauli, on the other hand, intends to spur change in the near future, with some of the ship’s technologies likely to be distributed throughout the maritime industry. Pauli claims that his nanoplastic filters will be deployed on 1,000 ships in the Mediterranean Sea by 2024, kicking off a larger-scale cleanup programme. Morocco plans to build a fleet of ships outfitted with Pauli’s air bubble fishing technology by 2025, he said.
“Inventing something isn’t enough. “There’s a sense of empowerment when you realise that this technology can actually benefit communities that rely on unsustainable habits,” he said, adding, “Once you’ve done something unique, democratise it and make it available.”