By Lyle Brennan
By Lyle Brennan
April 8, 2012 (Mail Online)
Behind the panes of the Aquadream aquarium, 3,000 sea creatures swim through 264,000 gallons of water – all within the confines of Casablanca’s Morocco Mall.
So imagine the carnage that would take place if an earthquake were to hit the attraction, which has opened in the tremor-prone North African region.
Luckily, the firm that designed the tank built it with this nightmare scenario in mind, and it has already survived two small quakes during construction.
Standing at 30ft, the Aquadream is the world’s biggest cone-shaped fish tank and includes a glass lift up the middle, giving shoppers the sensation of being underwater.
It contains a real reef that includes genuine coral, shoal upon shoal of colourful fish as well as sharks and rays.
There were fears that an earthquake would cause it to break, sending water and marine animals cascading through the shopping centre. But it has been built on its own special foundation and was not affected by two recent tremors.
The American firm responsible say they hope to ‘offer an engaging experience, emphasising education and the importance of preserving the world’s oceans’.
International Concept Management won’t say exactly what it cost, but the figure runs into several millions of pounds. The structure is 40 feet in diameter at the bottom and 44 feet at the top – with acrylic panels that are nearly five inches thick.
The state-of-the-art life support system makes saltwater using fresh city water and artificial sea salt while filtering 100 percent of the water every hour. It has proved a huge hit with visitors, some of whom just go up and down in the lift.
Roger Reynolds, chief executive of International Concept Management, said: ‘We gained a wealth of knowledge when constructing the AquaDom cylindrical aquarium in Berlin.
‘Aquadream presented challenges in the complexity of the design and execution, but with our collective expertise, we successfully designed and built the aquarium to fulfill the vision. of the project while maintaining our strict safety standards.
‘One of the challenges we faced was expected earthquake activity.
‘With Casablanca situated in a relatively high seismic zone, safety was paramount in the design.
‘ICM’s solution kept the aquarium as a freestanding structure sitting on its own concrete slab separate from the mall.
‘This cushions it against tremors and isolates it from any movement the rest of the mall may be experiencing during an earthquake.
‘As testament to ICM’s solid engineering and design, two small tremors rippled through during the construction of the aquarium without damaging any component of the structure.
‘While the design, manufacturing, and installation were all quite technical, we had considerable experience to rely on to do everything exactly as it should be done.
‘Seeing the finished aquarium and the excitement from the crowds when the mall opened made all that work well worth it.’