Buoyant Aquacology: Venetian Futures

Landscape Ecology Design

The city of Venice marks the quintessential marriage of architecture and water. However, this relationship is a precarious one, sustained only through an immense technological and political tour de force. In a future of radically rising sea levels, Venice risks becoming Atlantis. Architecture needs to be asking how we might build, live, operate and create societies within the reality of volatile and unpredictable weather, in a world of flooded cities, new deserts, cities the scale of small countries and collapsing ecosystems. This project was published in "Water."

Within this proposal, Venice would become a city protected from rising sea levels by great ringed barrier walls, with locks for access and trade. The Lagoon would become an arm of the sea, with new ecologies – and economies - supplanting those that have disappeared.

A shifting matrix, a net, of floating energy barges will produce hydrogen algae to be farmed for energy production, as well as a food and mineral source, while processing sewage from the cities and using it to grow new soil. Other barges will support hydroponic agriculture, fish hatcheries and solar collection cells.

The northern portion of the island of Murano will become an ecological preserve where tidal flats and marshlands will be manufactured for study and preservation of marine species in a state of continuous succession, evolving through managed dynamic ecological processes, and through interaction with the new forces of sea.

Individual floating vessels, controlled by a GPS information network, facilitate access to this new territory. These vessels take the form of transparent bubbles constructed of a chambered high performance skin, which allows unrestricted views of both the new life above and the cities submerged below the water line.

Typology Landscape Ecology Design
Date 2007
Location Venice, Italy
scale 136,000 acres
scope International Design Competition


Architects Kathy Velikov, Geoffrey Thün and Colin Ripley (rvtr)
Contractor Core Limited
Project Team Mark Friesner, Zhivka Hristova, Leila Mazhari, Clayton Payer


  • HYDROCity, Toronto Free Gallery, Nov –Dec 2009
  • rvtr: matters of concern. Cambridge Galleries at Riverside, Cambridge, ON Oct 2008 - Jan 2009
  • Young Architect’s Forum 2008: RESONANCE. Architectural League, New York, NY May 2008-July 2008