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Floatopolis – Global Strategies for Floating Design

Rob Newman & Michael Mitchell

Floatopolis is an ideas-led collective which creates site specific floating and water-related design, set within a global context. The questions we are investigating are as follows:

How do we take a localized approach to a global need for climate conscious design? What will our future look like with the effects of climate change? How will humans interact with their built environment and what will this environment be? It is our job to push the boundaries of design and start to think about what the solutions to these questions might be. As well as this, we must consider how these solutions could be realized as part of a global strategy.


We will describe our response through a collection of projects aimed to change the way we think about floating design and hope to inspire the next generation of creators, thinkers and doers.  With communities potentially being lost to floods as cities subside and the sea levels rise, the world is trying to relocate and rebuild. We propose a model of floating footprints; these give the possibility for your pin on the geographical map to remain, while the built environment adapts and evolves to the changes in climate. Projects to be discussed include:

A response to sinking pacific islands. A floating pavilion highlighting the possibilities of our urban waterways. An amphibious design for retrofitting our existing cities to adapt to flood.

Our work has stemmed from a passion to design and innovate floating solutions which are drastically needed, as seen with the recent flooding in the UK and worldwide. Our combined design expertise has been developed through experience in a global practice, as well as competitions and collaborations. Floatopolis is a combination of metropolis and floating; it aims to evoke a vision of resilience for a future where people can live in harmony with water and the ever-changing environment.

KEYWORDS: Architecture, Floating, Amphibious, Global, Design


Rob Newman is an architect and an entrepreneur in floating and amphibious design, currently working at the global design practice Foster and Partners. He studied architecture (BSc, MArch) at the Welsh School of Architecture in Cardiff where his passion for floating and amphibious projects began. Rob has also participated and helped with the organisation of the ICAADE (International Conference of Amphibious Architecture, Design and Engineering). The desire to connect with like minded individuals and to make and imapact with climate concious design led to the founding of Floatopolis.


Michael is an Architect working at Foster + Partners London. Educated at the Welsh School of Architecture in Cardiff (BSc, MArch) he developed a keen interest in technology, innovation and sustainability. This was echoed in a Thesis project which researched highrise timber construction. This ideas led design approach has continued into the research and development of design working as part of the Floatopolis collective.

Michael Mitchell ARB RIBA

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