Dubai-based architect wins award to design city in the sea


Dubai-based Simon Nummy has won top prize in an international architectural design contest for his vision of a floating city.

The organisation behind the prize, the Seasteading Institute, is a non-profit think-tank which is working to provide an opportunity for experimenting with new societies, with a focus on floating cities which “will allow the next generation of pioneers to peacefully test new ideas for how to live together”.

Nummy, who is employed by Atkins, worked on the project in his own time. He said his design aims to create a fully sustainable and self-sufficient community which is resilient against all kinds of “storms” – be they political, social, economic, physiological or psychological.


His city includes residential, industrial, commercial and community zones on special floating platforms which act to dampen wave movement, while also helping enrich the waters around it.

Nummy said: “In this competition a lot of ideas came together that I’ve been playing around with for a long time. ‘Storm makes sense of shelter’ is a quotation from a very influential architectural book, The Poetics of Space, by the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard. This quote has stayed with me since student days and I believe it drives an architectural approach beyond shape-making and fashion and finds depth in response to specific sites and situations.

“Applying a modular, efficiency based nautical approach to buildings has always fascinated me – ship design is about a response to conditions that makes self-sufficiency, performance and technology imperative.”

Entries for the competition were judged on vision, architectural quality, sustainability, feasibility and survivability.

The ambition for Seasteaders is to establish a place where those who wish to experiment with building new societies can go out to test their ideas – since all land on Earth is already claimed, they describe the oceans as “humanity’s next frontier”.

Nummy added: “I’ve been following the Seasteading Movement for some time; serious research and development is happening in this arena across many industries, from sea cooled data centres to aquaculture to bio-fuel production. Alongside this the idea of living in international waters also throws up many interesting scenarios.

“Something I’m particularly pleased with in this proposal is the incorporation of ‘Ocean Pipes’ within the platform anchoring system. This is a geoengineering idea proposed by James Lovelock, the father of Gaia Theory, in which the dampening of wave action is used to drive a pumping motion of deep, cold, nutrient rich water below the thermocline up to the surface. This has implications for the microclimate and sustainability of the Seasteaders but I believe ideas such as this could also become income generating in the form of generating Carbon Credits.”


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