Massive size, over-the-top features, big price tags and years of work — that is the DNA of a megaproject that’s destined to be a must-see travel spot. These are constructs often so lofty that, at first glance, they seem more like concept art for a new Star Wars film. There were a number of megaprojects that were either proposed or put into motion in 2012. So, as the year winds down, let’s take a look at the jaw-dropping structures that could be gracing the skyline — and the ocean — in the future.
Yongyu-Muui, South Korea
You’d be hard-pressed to find a project that earns its “mega” moniker more than South Korea’s futuristic gambling spot dubbed 8City. Stretching across more than 30 miles (three times the area of obvious rival Macau), this endeavor aims to be a tourism destination to end all tourism destinations. Spreading across a giant number 8 (the number symbolizes good fortune in China; the hope is that the Chinese will be frequent visitors), 8City plans to include casinos, shopping malls, a theme park, a water park, a Formula One track, a 50,000-seat concert hall, a nearly 2-square-mile domed Megastrip (filled with shops, hotels and other attractions) and more. The “more” part is causing some to wonder if the nearly $300 billion (you read that right) project will ever be properly funded, but with financing talks to begin next year, the telltale signs of success or failure will be visible long before 8City’s projected 2030 completion date.
Floating Golf Course
Bringing a new meaning to the phrase “water hazard,” the yet-unnamed floating course is actually a small part of a much bigger plan. The 1,192 islands of the Maldives are, on average, just five feet above sea level, making it the lowest country in the world. Fearing rising water and sinking islands, the Maldivian government has paired with architectural firm Dutch Docklands to construct an entirely new set of artificial islands. The landmasses, including the 18-hole course, would be created in India or the Middle East and then towed to their final location, where they would be tethered to the seabed by cables. As for the course itself, underwater tunnels would lead you from hole to hole, and after a day of chips, drives and — cross your fingers! — hook-free rounds, you would take an elevator under the water to the clubhouse. The $515 million-plus project is scheduled to be ready for play by the end of 2013.
Water Discus Hotel
While this straight-out-of-sci-fi concept is still in the proposal stages, a significant amount of buzz has been garnered from its intriguing design and Dubai-style opulence. Dreamed up by Polish company Deep Ocean Technology, this hotel features two massive, inhabitable discs — one above the water and the other sitting about 33 feet below the surface. The latter would include 21 guest rooms (accommodations also would be available on the upper disc). A diving center with decompression chambers and airlocks, garden, spa and helipad are other planned hotel amenities. James Bond-movie-worthy safety features would be built into the design in case of disaster, including the top disc being buoyant and detachable from its submerged brother. While the history of underwater hotels isn’t as shining as the sea they aim to populate — Hydropolis, an underwater lodging off the coast of Jumeirah Beach estimated at $300 million, never came to fruition — we’ll have to wait to see if the Discus Hotel will have vacationers sleeping with the fishes — figuratively speaking, of course.
Appropriately slashing into the sky at more than 1,000 feet, the Renzo Piano-designed Shard provides a striking addition to the London cityscape with its tapered, glass-clad surface. At an estimated cost of $2.5 billion (including land development around the building), The Shard, while not quite as mind blowing as 8City or the floating golf course, has a trump card — it’s complete. Even better, it will house the U.K.’s first Shangri-La Hotel. The luxury hotel’s 202 rooms will occupy floors 34 to 52. The building, the tallest in the European Union, was inaugurated this past July and will officially open in 2013.