Five metres below the surface of the Indian Ocean, Auckland’s Aircool Refrigeration has been involved in a world ﬁrst project with a huge Kiwi component, with the supply, installation, and management of mechanical services for Conrad Maldives Rangali Island’s new underwater hotel room.
“Without mechanical services you can’t be down there,” says Aircool Refrigeration managing director and design engineer Theo Hirschi. “Everyone involved has been a key part of the overall project.”
This is a return to the Maldives for Aircool Refrigeration, which was also responsible for the supply and installation of mechanical services for the 5.8 Undersea Restaurant there in 2016.
“It was a learning curve with the restaurant because we had to document everything we exported, provide packing lists and commercial invoices for customs’ requirements. Having done the restaurant really helped with this project, which was four times the size.”
The underwater hotel room was constructed in Singapore, and an installation crew from Aircool Refrigeration travelled there for the supply and install of stainless steel ducting during the construction phase.
“Instead of ordinary carbonised ducting, it has to be stainless steel which is suitable for being underwater and also exposed to the sea air. All of things are very aggressive on materials.” It was then shipped to the Maldives in February this year.
By June, construction of the above water villa was far enough along for the Aircool Refrigeration team to return for the above water installation of the plant room, fans and coils, and ducting and ventilation.
Its location required tenacious management by Aircool Refrigeration to ensure the installation crew had everything they needed
“It’s not a place you can pop out for screws or washers,” Theo says. “We had something like 15,000 or more items for this project which all had to be shipped over safely.”
The restaurant project required the underwater dining space to be air conditioned from a plant room above water.
The same process has been applied to the underwater hotel room, with the plant room part of the above water villa, except all of the mechanical plant is duplicated for duty/standby in case of a stoppage or break down.
“If the air conditioning was to stop, within a very short period of time it would be getting very hot down there. If something happens to a certain mechanical component, the systems shifts over to the standby component. The duplicated plant is not treated as standby, both parts run intermittently to keep them in good working order.”
Unlike the restaurant, the 102sqm underwater hotel room includes a toilet, shower, and basins, so this project came with an additional issue of getting rid of the waste water.
Like any other commercial facility, air in the underwater bathroom needs to be extracted, and waste water takes a natural ﬂow into an underwater tank, then pumped up above water once it reaches a certain capacity.
Aircool Refrigeration called on Auckland’s Plumbuilt to supply and install the underwater bedroom’s hydraulic plumbing system.
Another Auckland company, Direct Control, was engaged to supply and install the mechanical, ﬁre, and lighting controls.
The system was commissioned by another Auckland company, Airlab.
This article was brought to you in association with the following businesses…
- Aircool Refrigeration (1990) Ltd
- Pnj Sheetmetal Limited