We Built This City

Yesterday we had our final presentation for our Floating City assignment and got feedback from the tutors on our outcome.

As a group we were happy with out end result and really relieved that we were able to get it fully rendered in time. The tutors advised us to focus more on the scale of our models; because we had made our models quite small, the lighting we had was very harsh and made it less believable.

As well as this advice, Conánn gave the class as a whole some tips on presentations;

  • When presenting rendered stills, don’t lose the artistry in the process, ensure that your end result is what you had in mind when doing concepts rather than letting the software dictate what the renders look like.
  • Any and all images in your presentation should line up and be pixel accurate or this will impact how professional your presentation comes across.
  • Spell check will save your life, especially if you’re doing posters and data visualisation  – otherwise, nothing matters.
  • Typography – base font should be 11px + 50% of the average age of your audience, headings should then have another 11px added to this.
  • There should be a visual hierarchy in your presentations



Data Visualisation

Data Visualisation is a way to help people understand the significance and impact of data (eg statistics) by representing it visually. This is incredibly important as it makes it a lot easier for people to understand the information you are providing them with. 

This is also a key aspect of our assignment and so we have decided to do a series of simple posters to present the statistical data which has influenced our cities outcome. These posters include information on the economy, education, population and geography of Rome.

The colours I chose to use in these posters are those of the Italian flag. I felt that pastel colours weren’t as harsh as more vivid colours and so would be less garish and more appealing to viewers.

I am very happy with how these posters have turned out as they aren’t overwhelming but still provide the information needed.

Designs for the Lilypad City

Early Designs

At the beginning of this project we did a lot of concepts before we had decided on a finalised location for out city.

The designs I did were based off a lot of the things I looked at in terms of inspiration:

This floating island was inspired by the island of Mont Saint-Michel and Moebius’ interpretation of it having torn away from the sea. The base of this city was veery simple and would act as landing bays for importing and exporting things from the city.

Another of my designs with a similar base was inspired by the Parrocchia Dio Padre Misericordioso in the outskirts of Rome. I liked the idea of incorporating more modern styles of architecture in our city while still being inspired by Rome’s past. This design would have meant multiple cities to accommodate the population.

Inspired by Laputa: Castle in the Sky and Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, I wanted to do a design of floating islands. In this design the different areas would be connected by bridges, which hold a lot of significance in Rome as they are built and commemorate events.

Final Design

final concept i guess copy

After a lot of deliberation, we finally came to this design. We knew for a long time that we wanted our design to be on water but this came with its own set of challenges.

In order to keep the city afloat while being able to cope with the weight of those living in the city, we decided to split Rome up in to a series of floating cities, each with a capacity of 200,000 people.

Since Rome has a population of 2.6 million, this would mean a series of 13 cities with a size of 98 km, we felt that this size city would be difficult to keep afloat and so we incorporated a propeller to the bottom of our iceberg-inspired shape. As well as this propellor, Jack found information on a metal composite which is so light that even if a boat made from this were to be damaged structurally, it would still stay afloat.

As well as this we looked at sacrificial protection, a method used by ships to prevent the ship from rusting. In this process, zinc pieces (sacrificial anodes) were places around the exterior of the ship. Because the zinc has a higher voltage in the water , the current is more likely to flow from it that from the propeller of your ship, meaning that they would rust before the important parts of the structure, and could be replaced a lot more easily. With this method, all aspects of the structure you want to protect must be coated in the zinc, which, for us, means all of our city except for the glass.

Sections of the City


The final design of our floating city is made up of 3 main sections:

  • The Top: The top of our city is encased in a glass dome to protect the city during extreme weather conditions. It a spinning edge which generates wave energy as well as having solar panels, this is where the energy for our city would be generated. This section has lowered sections which allows sea water to enter and be purified, it it then pumped throughout our cities. As well as this, the main tourist areas would be with buildings inspired from ancient Roman architecture would be in this area.
  • The Middle: The middle section is the location of the city’s living areas. There is a series of elevators and stair cases in the centre column. There would also be a lot of shops etc. on these levels to accommodate those living here.
  • The Bottom: The bottom section of our city is where the power plants and waste disposal plants are situated. As well as this the propeller to help keep the city afloat is attached to this section.



One thing I find really interesting about Rome is the mixture of different types of architecture that coexist in such a small area, and how you can see the progression of styles of architecture and how they have come together.

Talking to Gianni, I learnt that something Italians find really important is learning from and building on their past, because of this there is a lot of inspiration from previous styles of architecture throughout Rome’s history.

Elements which have been central throughout the years however, include arches. Arches were used through out Roman architecture as it allowed them to create lighter, taller, wider structures. As well as this, they realised that if they build them inside their buildings and along their walls they work as support systems, meaning that their buildings would be stronger.

From this came the vault, used by the Romans to create large open rooms and passageways. The two main types of vault attributed to the Romans are the groin vault and the barrel vaults. I think that this form of architecture is really aesthetically pleasing and would love to be able to incorporate this some how in our design/

Another important point that I was told by Gianni is that Roman architecture has been somewhat restrained by the height limit on buildings in Rome, therefore a lot of Italian architects have moved to China and Dubai where they have more creative freedom in their designs. Because of this, I think it would be interesting to look at modern architecture in these places as well as the outskirts of Rome, to see what our city can draw influence from by imagining what Rome could be like if not for the limits.

Work as a Community

Today a few groups from each city presented the research they had done for their floating cities in the week that has gone by since we were first given our assignment, and Conánn suggested that we should all work together to gather information since we all would find the same things anyway.

After hearing this, the Rome groups decided to meet up after class and work out a plan for what everyone would cover between today and our next meeting (which should hopefully be in the next week or so!)

Group 1  – Nature
Group 3 – Statistics
Group 5 – History
Group 7 – Architecture
Group 9 – Art & Fashion

Although we have been assigned statistics, we have a lot of research on architecture and history from the past week, so hopefully this will impact our project in a way which makes it more interesting in the end.


Oceanscrapers and Lily Pad Cities

A concept I came across while looking for inspiration was the idea of cities floating on water, much like The Ark in Brink which I speak about in this blog post, which are being referred to as “oceanscrapers” and are a lot like icebergs with their shapes and designs. After sharing the designs which have inspired me most with this concept to my group, we have decided to stick with the ocean being where our city floats, which I’m really happy about as it means that we have more focused ideas of what to do for concepts and designs.

The reasoning behind the plans for cities floating on water is to help lower population density by expanding the areas we have to live in to the  71% of the Earth’s surface which is covered by water and creating economically autonomous nations which are sustainable and provide clean living for it’s inhabitants.

Some of the most interesting and inspiring designs for this style of future living are by the Belgian artist Vincent Callebaut who I speak about in a lot more detail in this post as well as the floating cities which were designed AT Design as a solution for China’s increasingly crowded coastlines.

AT Design’s concept would be made from pre-fabricated blocks which could be moved in order to fit the communities needs and would have large docks to allow travel between themselves and the rest of the world.