Tuesday, February 7, 2017


While we're on the subject of weird utopias, let's consider the plan by German Bauhaus architect Herman Sörgel called Atlantropa.

The idea was to drain the Mediterranean by building several huge dams, the principal ones being across the straits of Gibraltar and the Bosporus.

By sealing off the inflow of water, the sea could be gradually lowered by more than 200 meters, opening up land routes from Morocco to Spain and from Tunis to Italy and increasing vast swaths of arable land.

With easy travel between Europe and Africa, a supercontinent would emerge to challenge the rival powers of Pan-Asia and Pan-America. The dams would provide unlimited hydroelectric power.

Unfortunately for Sörgel, the Nazis had no interest in the scheme, though the idea stayed alive for a few more decades. In 1977, Popular Mechanics analyzed the engineering challenges and concluded:
"It would require a dam 18 miles long and up to 1,000 feet deep and 1,500 feet wide at its base. The volcanic Mediterranean seafloor, relieved of all that weight, might react in eruptions and earthquakes, and the sea level everywhere else in the world would rise by three feet." 
Atlantropa in The Futility Closet
Atlantropa on Wikipedia
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Carola Dewor said...

A case of megalomania? My goodness 😉

Garrett said...

This is similar to the Reber plan to dam the SF Bay at its north and south ends back in the 1950's. The army core of engineers even created a functional hydraulic model of the bay to test the effects of such a plan... Needless to say they discovered such a plan would be disastrous. You can still visit the model in Sausalito, CA.