Sustainable Urban Development SYMPOSIUM

Panel 1 

> AQUATIC Urbanism < 

2 November 2021
> 10.30-12.30 <
Youth Pavilion + ONLINE

Panel > Aquatic Urbanism <

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This panel provides a critical overview of different approaches to dealing with the

challenges faced by and opportunities available to contemporary coastal cities:


Over 400 million people around the world live less than five metres above sea

level. With predicted rises in sea level, people living in these coastal settlements

will experience many detrimental effects, including loss of land, the impacts of

more intense storm surges, deterioration of urban and natural environments,

infrastructure vulnerabilities, human health risks, food insecurity and,

consequently, profound climate-related existential threats.


Developing and applying new digital and physical models in combination with

traditional research methods and adaptable design strategies is a key feature of

the methodological innovations pioneered by the presenting members of the

SeaCities group. This holistic research approach—that spans and includes the

disciplines of engineering, architecture and urban design, urban and regional

planning and other environmental sciences—enables research in the group to

develop new approaches to building with and for nature, to create ecosystem-

based developments on land and sea that respond to the challenges faced by

coastal communities in an adaptive and compatible fashion.


The transition from terrestrial to amphibious to aquatic developments creates

exciting design opportunities that can relieve land-based population pressures and

foster innovative development solutions. Furthermore, it shifts the focus of

research and its application from defining and managing increasing risks for

coastal communities towards the exploration and development of novel design,

engineering, ecological and infrastructure solutions. These can seek to blend and

merge the sea and land environments in a productive and sustainable fashion.

(see also Springer book SeaCities: Urban Tactics for Sea-Level Rise by Joerg

Baumeister et al.; 2021)

Innovation Performance > Water <

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Challenged to Adapt: coastal edges and future mortality

In 2020 world travel changed, with the imminent disaster of now, where the exploration of
hope in our surrounding environments is ever more imperative in how we can adapt for
future change. “Dying is pointless,” Baudrillard once wrote. "You have to know how to
disappear." Through an artistic lens, this conversation brings the aquatic edge and its
mortality into focus. With a backdrop of video projections, the narrative begins with a tool-
kit for buoyancy in Count the Waves (2015) and then meditates on The Slow Decline
(2013), where a journey underwater unfolds. Islands come into focus with Expedition to
Paradise Adrift (2016), considering islands as dreamlands and graveyards. As world
ecological disasters increase, should we be building a boat or explore adapted ecological
edges? In considering Noah’s Ark Problem, we must consider a biodiversity of
explorations of the ecological argument that our understanding of the world we inhabit is
formed by our surroundings and actions, rather than being derived from any constructed
“nature.” This allows us to further explore new landscapes and ecological designs while
developing dreams on coastal edges which Bellotto considers in the video Challenged to
Adapt (2021). To be an anchor and not a mirage, it considers how to (re)frame or consider
the way forward through environmental and social uncertainties, developing dreams which
reach new island or coastal destinations in the future, before we ourselves disappear.

Prof Dr.-Ing. Joerg Baumeister

Keynote: SeaCities' Innovation 

Joerg is leading the SeaCities Lab (SeaCities.org) at the Cities Research Institute, Griffith University in Australia which develops and implements water-adapted cities (aquacities) and floating structures (aquatecture). Joerg has been a practitioner, educator, and researcher for Architecture and Urban Design for more than 25 years throughout Europe, Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Asia, and Australia.  

Despina Linaraki 

Growing islands - an Architectural toolbox - Artificial vs Natural processes  

Architect engineer, Despina Linaraki is a PhD researcher at Sea Cities. Having lived and worked experience in various coastal cities around the world, she is researching nature-based solutions for the adaptation of low-lying coastal areas to sea-level changes and floods.    

Ioana Corina Giurgiu 

Design potentials of hybrid urban-wetland interactions 

Ioana is an AADipl(Hons), ARB/RIBA Part III architect and PhD candidate, currently developing a thesis on hybrid water-based urban systems design, within the SeaCities interdisciplinary research group. Her research interests revolve around sustainable environmental design with relevant past work included in the London MERGE Festival, London Festival of Architecture, and Montreal World Design Summit.  

Thang Nguyen

Planning urban seascapes for water-adaptive sea cities 

Thang Nguyen is a PhD candidate and researcher at Sea Cities. He has a professional background in urban and regional planning in Vietnam. His current research is on adaptive planning tools for the urban seascapes addressing the challenges of sea level rise, marine dynamics and marine urbanization for sea cities.  

Prof. Janet Bellotto

Challenged to Adapt: coastal edges and future mortality

Artist, writer and Professor at Zayed University, Dubai, Janet Bellotto’s practice is inspired by locations with water a constant theme that focuses on oceans, marine life, island ecology and insularity while examining the ever-changing world that she travels. Her work has been exhibited in a variety of solo and group exhibitions internationally, while engaged in projects that promote cultural exchange