OFF Architecture / Bering Strait Project


A few weeks ago, we shared the Bering Strait Project which asked participants to create a massive spanning element connecting Russia to America.  The design would physically join the world together and could potentially promote world unity and peace.  Paris-based OFF Architecture‘s team of Manal Rachdi, Tanguy Vermet, Mathieu Michel, Takanao Todo, and Lily Nourmansouri was awarded second place in the professional category of the competition.  Their project “does not simply concern itself with the construction of a commercial or railway link, nor a bridge connecting one continent to another. The amplitude, siting, geopolitical context as well as the global ecological conscience entails a proposal far more audacious, an active project sensitive to the conditions of the site.”

More about the proposal after the break.


Working in compression, the structure’s 10 meter wide parallel walls are held with bracing, which at times is habitable.  The enclosed space “becomes an interface for human passage and exchange, providing visitors and inhabitants the opportunity to traverse the Strait by foot, as was originally intended by primary civilizations.”  As the Strait’s relatively shallow water levels allow the proposed structure to descend to the bottom of the ocean, users can experience constant views of the entire marine landscape.



Perforations in the main structure allow the marine animals to move through the spaces while adjacent laboratories provide an excellent research space for scientists.  Other perforations in the structure act as marine current turbines, accelerating water movement and currents. Because the water level in the Strait is relatively shallow, flows tend to be faster, generating more energy.  The project includes large turbines to provide energy for the residential areas and laboratories; yet the turbines move at such a slow pace that no animals would be harmed.


Extending past the primary space, a series of 10 meter by 10 meter modular cubes, faced with a polished reflective metal, float above the water’s surface. “The subtle undulation of the modules solidifies once the ice freezes into a unified plane, displaying the instability, political and climactic, that exists in the zone.”


Residences, theaters and cultural centers are dispersed among the 400 meter high island.  Such hermitic structures create a new mode of living. Due to the innate thermal mass of the subterranean rock, the diverse program is attributed natural heating and cooling qualities.



All images courtesy of the studio.  As seen on Bustler.





Cite: Cilento, Karen. "OFF Architecture / Bering Strait Project" 10 Aug 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <>
  • David

    Crazy mind!

  • Khanut

    I like the way this project goes.

  • Jade Doel

    Talk about thinking outside the square! Bravo team!

  • Filipe (colombia)

    what it this?

  • Chris

    I’d just like to point out that whales can’t reverse…

    • anavic

      who told you so? I’ve seen them with my eyes doing it..

  • Maria (Columbia)

    This is beautiful!
    And crazy!
    Good work.

  • Raf


  • malonne

    Amazing, can it be possible? bravo…

  • Dave

    Love the idea, impressive renderings. But just for fun: Who will clean all underwater glass?

  • mem

    I think that it doesn’t apply at all with the size of the project, 80 km it is too much for a human passage. So, there is no need for this holed wall.

  • priscilla

    i love it man!

  • pamela

    the animals like objects! you see the shark swimm in a little tube? This is terrible, but, there’re others things good. For example, the idea of swimm below the space build and after the wather/sea with animals, i like this, very much. And the a idea of beach submerse and yours foot in wather, this is great.

  • Manny Oceans

    Not crazy, fabulous. I am actually working on a similar project as we speak. The project in tells bringing the HyRail system through floating luxury homes that are storage facilities. The system will be attachable and it will be able to sink. The tunnels for the rail system will have the option to run outside or inside the system.

    I am formulating a design club for the development process of the system. It is called Ocean Life. If you like to participate in the construction process with your designs. We are based out of San Diego and I am looking to give designers and opportunity to actually cad their designs for installation.

    The formulation of the environment we are working on is by membership. Designers interested in the project will be able to work with our engineers for constructing the mechanism and designs.

  • zhang qi

    crazy concept