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Winners announced 3

Australian designed deepsea submersible wins top gong in 2012 Australian International Design Awards

Designed and manufactured by four Australian companies - Acheron Project, Design + Industry, McConaghy Boats and Finite Elements - in partnership with Hollywood film director James Cameron, the Deepsea Challenger is the first single occupant research submersible capable of safely taking a human to the bottom of the ocean, 11 kilometres below the surface. Built in a factory in Leichhardt, the sub took Mr Cameron to the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean bed, on a research expedition in March 2012 and has received the 2012 Australian International Design Award™ of the Year.

Recognised by the Design Awards’ judges for its innovation, design ingenuity, safety considerations and thorough attention to detail, the Deepsea Challenger was the standout winner in a field of 105 Finalists, all of which showcase the best in design, creativity and innovation.

Presented by Good Design Australia, the Australian International Design Awards is Australia's longest running design recognition program. By rewarding companies that differentiate their products and services by design, the program aims to raise awareness of the importance of good design, encourage greater demand for well-designed products and propel Australian design to the world stage.

Judges were impressed by the way the submersible's design team had overcome a long list of challenges to reach a groundbreaking outcome.

"A stunning use of design at the highest order…this is incredible, inspirational, a total game changer," the judges commented.

In designing the sub, the team had to solve problems including how to launch and transport the sub, the physics of deep-water pressure, how to safely provide the pilot with oxygen, warmth and protection, and how to equip the unit with exploration and scientific research equipment to capture images and samples of life deep in the ocean.

A key aspect of the sub is the steel Life Support Sphere that houses the pilot. Not only did the designers have to design the Sphere to withstand 16,500psi pressure during the dive, they also needed to ensure the entire sub was buoyant and could travel through the water. Australian engineer and co-designer Ron Allum from Acheron Project spent 18 months designing a patented type of foam, ISOFLOAT, for the body of the sub.

With just enough room for the pilot to sit in the Sphere with his knees bent up, designing the internal layout for safety and functionality also took meticulous detail.

"Congratulations to the collaborative design team behind the Deepsea Challenger. This is an amazing project – from the design achievements recognised with the Design Award™ of the Year to the untapped potential for education, research and exploration now made possible by the innovation captured in this project," said Brandon Gien, Managing Director of Good Design Australia.

"It's not surprising our judges felt the Deepsea Challenger was a deserving winner in this year's Awards, which saw 37 prestigious Design Award™ accolades presented, 68 Good Design accolades, and seven Australian-designed products take out Best in Category Design Awards."

View all 2012 Winners