The Bartlett School of Architecture


Unmoored Cities: Radical Urban Futures and Climate Catastrophes

25 May 2018, 10:00 am–6:00 pm

A man climbing on a glass roof

'Unmoored Cities' is a day-long symposium exploring climate change and its impact on cities across the globe.

Event Information

Open to



Urban Lab


Room G.12, The Bartlett, 22 Gordon Street, London, WC1H 0QB

As countless studies have demonstrated, cities are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Indeed, many of the world’s cities are at risk of becoming ‘unmoored’, whether literally sunk beneath rising sea waters or tidal rivers, or forced to relocate entirely. Such possible urban futures challenge our imaginations to think through the physical, social and cultural consequences of climate change; yet, on the whole, the current literature on climate change and cities focuses on the mitigation of rather than adaption to those consequences.

This symposium will redress this by exploring imaginative modes of thinking in relation to future cities and climate change, asking how we might think through radical and utopian possibilities for unmoored cities. How will cities continue to thrive if they are submerged? Will they float or even lift off into the air? What might it mean to move a city? Drawing together speakers from a wide range of disciplines - anthropology, architecture, art, fiction, and geography - this symposium explores multiple urban imaginaries that engage with future cities and climate change. The result will be to challenge and expand the narrow range of possibilities that currently characterise approaches to the subject.

Speakers include:

  • CJ Lim (The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL)
  • Maggie Gee (author)
  • Rachel Armstrong (Newcastle University)
  • Viktoria Walldin (White Arkitekter)
  • Thandi Loewenson (The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL)
  • Rob La Frenais (Curator and Writer)
  • Sasha Engelmann (Royal Holloway, University of London) 
  • Shaun Murray (University of Greenwich)
  • Matthew Butcher (The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL)
  • Robin Wilson (The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL)

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Unmoored Cities is organised by Paul Dobraszczyk and UCL Urban Laboratory, with Ben Campkin, Barbara Penner, Robin Wilson. The event has received financial support from the Architecture Projects Fund of The Bartlett School of Architecture.