The Climate Apartheid // A Tale of Two Cities
The thesis is a reflective statement about the approaches we take towards rising sea levels – is it pushing the water away like we always used to, or is it inviting water into cities, adapting and learning to live in coexistence with the future of wetness? Criticizing and reflecting on the current condition in which the rich pay to escape and build shelters, while the vulnerable are left to fight for themselves, the thesis speculates a new relationship with the rising water body, meandering through possibilities of using architecture as an expression of adaptation to the extreme consequences of climate change while simultaneously promoting equity by working to protect the most severely impacted communities in Glasgow. While it sets out practical design approaches, the thesis is not a technical manual but an ambition to change the way people perceive climate change, climate justice and to emphasize the urgency of taking actions to combat global warming now.
The project timeline is set in a hypothetical near-future scenario of 2050-2100. Drawing on climate change and climate inequalities, The Climate Apartheid – A Tale of Two Cities tells a cautionary tale of two cities divided by a wall which was erected by the historically wealthy communities residing on the northern banks of the river Clyde, to protect and keep themselves dry from the rising flood. The construction of the wall has led to a destructive flooding on the southern banks of the river which is home to the 10% most deprived communities of Glasgow.
Upon constructing the fortress of dryness, the rich continue to burn and pollute, carrying on with their old ways of trashing the earth looking down on the other side of the Wall. The flooded communities started an elevated layer of city network above water, an approach to discover a new relationship of coexisting with climate change, working with the resources that they had. Initially built as a protestant response to the erection of the wall, the floating city is an ever expanding and organically growing piece of fabric to counter-address the outcomes of climate inequality. It is an idea laboratory to encourage the shift from being consumers of water to become stewards of water.
What if we harnessed the extremeties of the weather and farmed it into resources? What if we realize a new relationship with water, using water as a healer, water as an equalizer, water as connection, water as religion, water as celebration? Water is an agent of transformation, of fluctuations. Water rejects lines – the edge of water is always gradation of moisture, rising and falling to the daily tidal rhythms.
The proposal seeks to embrace new ideas and technologies to transform our increasingly dense and climate-stressed cities to become both more resilient and more of an acceptable condition to live in.
The Tale of Two Cities explores the ambiguity of every day life between living behind the Wall on dry protected land versus the precariousness of living on the floating grid. The project uses water as a patching, healing and connecting tool between dry and wet, ground and river, and attempts to reimage the fluid margin of the city where sociological density meets hydrological intensity. Portrayed through a progression of futuristic timeline, the Two Cities undergo degradation, adaptation and finally rebirth, as the beginnings of the new hydro-age Glasgow. How can Glasgow utilise the extreme weather conditions and use it to its advantage, to channel it into fuelling a utopian city in a dystopian future?