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Floating cities and equitable grafting onto marine ecosystems

Ioana Corina Giurgiu

Based on current predictions of sea level rise and other climatic changes, in the near future, large urban coastal areas will no longer provide viable urban environments for human habitation. In response, floating city design proposals of various scales, degrees of connectivity and mobility are emerging as potential adaptations to predicted climate changes which partially or completely replace existing coastal urban typology.

The prospect of utilizing large floating structures for urban habitation and energy production seems highly appealing from an urban development perspective as it allows for a certain degree of continuity between the existing coastal typology and its envisioned floating counterpart. However, transplanting the large scale, static and perpetually connected land-based city model within an aquatic environment may prove challenging in terms of maintaining an equitable relationship between urban growth and marine ecosystem maintenance.

By analyzing the floating city model as a graft onto marine ecosystems, the paper explores site selection, scale and mobility, highlighting opportunities for future floating city proposals to enhance and contribute to the host marine environments they inhabit.

KEYWORDS: Floating city,  Ecosystem graft, Environmental benefits, Design principles, Climate refugia


Ioana is a Sea Cities PhD researcher, currently developing a thesis on hybrid water-based urban system designs. She graduated with Honours from the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London and, as a Certified Passivhaus Designer and registered architect, has worked on a number of Passivhaus and energy-efficient projects in UK and Romania. Her research focus is on decreasing the environmental footprint of the built environment via hybrid designs which create symbiotic relationships between natural and built environments.

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