By Jordi Lippe and Jordi Lippe-McGraw
May 11, 2016
Lissoni Architettura ©

What’s cooler than an aquarium? An underwater aquarium submerged in New York City’s East River.

Italian architect and designer Piero Lissoni recently won a prize at the Arch Out Loud contest with his Aquatrium design. The unique structure would be a submerged aquarium, island, and public park and would be situated on a vacant piece of land and basin in Long Island City, Queens.

Lissoni Architettura ©

“Our project creates a dynamic system that interacts with its surroundings, offering multiple ways to experience the water world represented by eight triple-height transparent biomes,” says Lissoni. “The main idea is to generate an environment whereby visitors feel that they themselves are entering the water to discover the beauty of the marine life on display—a living shell that opens to the sky during the day to reveal the sea worlds.”

Lissoni Architettura ©

The aquarium also features a retractable roof, allowing the structure to turn into a planetarium. The shell “closes as darkness falls to take on a ‘second life’ as a planetarium, protecting the arena and the biome domes within, like a shell protects the pearl.”