Author : Alfred Hope

University : University College London, Bartlett School of Architecture

Status : MA Architecture, 2015

Advisors : CJ Lim & Bernd Felsinger

Title : Sea Rise City _ Growing New Land in Bristol to Combat Sea Level Rise

The project is a floating bamboo landscape which replaces land lost to sea level rise over the coming centuries. The project is based on the edge of the river Severn estuary, on the outskirts of Bristol, in the UK and is established in partnership between the City of Bristol and the United Nations.

Nearly three billion people currently live in low elevation coastal areas around the world who are vulnerable to the effects of sea level rise. Sea Rise City is a partnership between the United Nations and the city of Bristol. The long term project, acts as a model for future urbanism on water by replacing land which is lost to sea level rise by growing a floating bamboo landscape to act as a canvass for urbanism.The construction of the landscape is facilitated by a floating offshore infrastructure, the headquarters of the 18th UN department, the department of Water & Climate Change. The landscape is home to 17 communities, subsidiary branches of the other UN departments which experiment with the many aspects involved with future urbanism on water leading to the generation of knowledge for future generations.

The project is based on notion that Utopia and Dystopia are intertwined, with one supporting the other. In the project scenario, the City of Bristol is chosen as the location for the project due to it’s bad history and the role it played in the trans atlantic slave trade, which brought riches and prosperity to the UK and underpinned the beginnings of the industrial revolution. Given the recent apology debate surrounding the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade, and Bristol’s refusal to apologise, the city becomes the site for the project in order to repent for its past by establishing new methods to tackle sea level rise as part of UN efforts to establish a better future for everybody.

The project anticipates that the Bristol area will likely experience a sea level rise of 7m by the year 2275. The project, deals with the issue using a method to effectively ‘grow’ new land from bamboo as the sea level gradually rises. This method was inspired by the ancient methods of Chinampa farming used by the Aztecs on lake Texcoco to establish floating agricultural landscape made from organic materials. Eventually the floating landscape consolidated and thickened to form new land.

The focal point of the project is the newly established United Nations department of Water & Climate Change. This new arm of the UN manifests itself as a floating infrastructure located at the current mouth of the river Avon estuary. The infrastructure provides a base for the creation of the surrounding landscape by facilitating the manufacture of new landscape rafts, and by treating organic waste from Bristol. The organic waste process creates compost, which is used to provide nutrients for the growth of the landscape, it also creates biogas, used for energy, and waste water, used for irrigation.
The surrounding landscape provides a canvass for United Nations communities, each representing UN departments with vested interests in the future of climate change. The communities are envisaged as self-sufficient bases for the generation and dissemination of knowledge which are much akin to monasteries. These communities play host to visitors and students from around the globe who come to experiment and learn methods such as how to grow food in a saltwater environment, before returning home to implement techniques and methods to benefit others.


S//A : What’s the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
Alfred Hope_ It’s purpose as an experimental endeavour to create new land and find new ways to live with future rising sea levels.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
AH_ Art & design

S//A : Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
AH_ Work hard & don’t stop trying and you will get there in the end!

S//A : Describe your dream project
AH_ A brewery in a rural setting.