Berliners depressed by the city’s notoriously cold and gray winters need to travel mere minutes in order to escape to a lush tropical paradise where the sun always shines, the air is a balmy 77 degrees, and orchids bloom beside a wide expanse of crystal-blue water. But the coolest thing about Tropical Islands, an artificial tropical resort in the German countryside, is the fact that it was built in a repurposed airship hangar.
The 194-million-cubic-foot structure – one of the world’s biggest buildings by volume – was originally commissioned by CargoLifter AG as a hangar for a prototype airship. When the company went bankrupt in 2002, it sold the 351-foot-high hangar to a Malaysian company called Tanjong, which repurposed the massive structure into a reproduction of a seaside village complete with a water park and the world’s largest indoor pool.
Nearly a million visitors take advantage of a 600-foot sandy beach and careen down a nine-story waterslide that sends sliders into the pool at speeds of up to 44mph. The record-breaking resort also contains the world’s largest artificial rainforest, which is packed with over 50,000 trees in 600 varieties.
Of course, as Inhabitat points out, maintaining all of this tropical artificiality in the middle of snowy Germany is not exactly eco-friendly – imagine the water and power bills. But it’s certainly a novel re-use for a structure that is so large as to be impractical for nearly any other purpose, and if the project does well in the long-term, other disused airship hangars around the world may follow suit.