THE CUTTY Sark, located at Greenwich, London, could be enclosed in a giant ETFE polymer bubble as part of efforts to rescue the decaying tea clipper.
The material, a polymer of ethylene and tetraflouroethylene, would be used to form a giant bubble enclosure (pictured) for the 140 year old wooden ship while renovation work on the hull and masts proceeded.
Renovation requires electrolysis treatment for metals, sealing and the replacement of major areas of timber.
A structure of air inflated tubular ribs would support the transparent 'tent', allowing the vessel to remain visible and a continuing tourist attraction.
Architect Nicolas Grimshaw's plan envisages a second stage permanent display using a Kevlar web, lifting the hull and surrounding it with a wave-like roof form to emulate the sea.
The Cutty Sark Trust has put Grimshaw's scheme forward as part of a $20M Heritage Lottery Fund bid.
A decision is due this month and work could begin in 2006.