This panel discussion is part of the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale 2021 Italian Virtual Pavilion Series.

Please join us at the 17th Venice Architectural Biennale Italian Virtual Pavilion, ‘Adapting to Aqueous Urban Futures’ event to be held 16th November 2021, 7:30PM – 8:30PM AEDT.


Rapid and extreme sea-level rise is redrawing coastlines in dynamic and dangerous ways. Rather than unfolding slowly and smoothly, its effects are spatially and temporally uneven.

Moments of ‘water out of place’ are accumulating and the place of water on the planet is being remade as oceans become more dominant. Coastal cities are already being impacted, with messy de urbanization at land edges now accompanying and accelerating messy urbanization at inland city edges.

Some cities, such as Venice, have begun to gradually adapt. Yet most remain inert, caught up in immediate business, accelerating cycles of disaster recovery, or what Ian Gray has called the ‘treadmill of protection’.

Barely imagined in the midst of this busyness are the immense ripple effects that storms, coastal erosion, flooding and saline intrusion are going to cause in cities, including waste, degradation and disarray, uninsurability, and eventual coastal retreat, leading to far-reaching effects on urban life, flows and other areas.

In the midst of such dissolution, what do positive solutions look like?

Collectively envisaging resilience to much more entropic, aqueous (ex)urban futures is an important element of figuring out ‘how we are to live together – the theme of this year’s Venice Architectural Biennale.

For urban professionals, working with higher, more volatile seas and saltier, stormier, shifting environments means rethinking existing and potential projects at a basic, elemental level. It means reshaping our work so that we individually and collectively help unmake and remake cities better suited to more uncertain, fluid futures.

Our panel will explore:

  • What principles and visions should guide these efforts in new modes of aqueous urbanism?
  • What is needed to adapt in positive ways?
  • Which professional practices can “live with” seawater and which ones need to be abandoned or created anew?


  • Alessandro Melis, Endowed Chair, New York Institute of Technology, New York
  • Lindsay Bremner, Professor, School of Architecture and Cities, University of Westminster, London
  • John Doyle, Senior Lecturer, School of Architecture and Design, RMIT University, Melbourne
  • Md. Yazid bin Ninsalam, Lecturer, School of Design, RMIT University, Melbourne
  • Anne Loes Nillesen, Director, Defacto Architecture and Urbanism studio, Rotterdam
  • Chaired by Lauren Rickards, Professor, Urban Futures ECP, RMIT University, Melbourne

Register here.


16 November 2021