22 November 2017

Architecture in focus: The Deep

By Engaging Places | 3 October 2014

Building and site description
The Deep is a large public aquarium, constructed on a jut of land where the River Hull meets the Humber Estuary. Designed by architect Sir Terry Farrell, the project was funded by the Millennium Commission as part of the 2020 master plan for the regeneration of Hull.

Photo of The Deep building

The Deep, Hull © Sally-Ann Norman

With views across the River Humber, the striking landmark has contributed to the urban regeneration and renewal of a city in industrial decline. Since it opened in 2002 over two million people have visited The Deep to explore the aquatic realm inside the four-storey “submarium”.

The construction materials and design used in the building draw on themes associated with water, geology and nature. Glass has been used to mirror the sea and aluminium to reflect the industrial past and growth of Hull as a trading port.

The roof plane and wall surfaces of the two buildings that form The Deep are constructed as a three-dimensional object instead of a series of two-dimensional planes. The wave like contours of the visitor attraction highlights the geography of the site and the aquatic function of the building.

The World’s only “submarium”, The Deep is a unique structure and a building that leads the way in aquatic architecture and design.

Architectural style
Exemplar public aquaria

Quirky facts

  • The Deep contains 2.5 million litres of water and 87 tonnes of salt
  • There are thousands of sea creatures, including seven species of shark in the aquarium
  • The Deep is a biomorphic structure, so that the building resembles a whale rising from the ocean.
Photo of students underneath a glass aquarium

Students inside The Deep submarium © Sally-Ann Norman

Building highlights

  • The Deep is part of a series of projects to re-develop the city of Hull and the river corridor of the Humber region
  • The structure comprises two buildings and architectural elements which are designed to echo the oceanic realm and the importance of maritime endeavour
  • The external structure is seen as a metaphor, using imagery of the sea and aquatic forms, so that the building is both functional and symbolic.

Using The Deep as a teaching resource
The Deep can support teaching and learning through the built environment and urban public realm across a range of subjects at key stage 2 and 3. A visit to The Deep can:

  • support learning about the relationship between nature and the value of aquatic spaces
  • support learning about maritime heritage and the urban public realm
  • demonstrate how contemporary design can relate to the geography of landscape.
Photo of two male students and a teacher outside The Deep building

Students visiting The Deep, Hull © Sally-Ann Norman

Suggested activities
Key stage 2 – Art and design, science
Design an underwater garden based on the theme of the coral reef and create an imaginative space. Think about the plantforms that you would place in the garden and the colour, texture and pattern of your design.

Key stage 3 – Design and technology
The Deep is a biomorphic structure, which gives the building the appearance of a natural form. Design a building or a structure that is biomorphic and takes on the form of a plant, animal or animal’s home. Think about the use of your building and the geography of its surroundings.

Key stage 2 – Geography
As a whole class, look at images of The Deep buildings on an interactive whiteboard. Discuss the orientation of the building. What direction is the building facing? How does it relate to the landscape? Is the building environmentally friendly and able to promote sustainability?

Yorkshire and Humber

The Deep
Hull HU1 4DP

School access
Open daily 10am until 6pm. Educational visits are £6 per student for at least three hours. Visit The Deep’s website to book a school visit.

Related resources
The Deep’s website

  • Back to top
  • | Print this article
  • | Email this article
  • | Bookmark and Share