Have you ever wondered what it feels like to live in Atlantis as it slowly sinks? With the rate of global warming, we could experience it in our future architecture.

Atlantis, the famous legendary ancient nation immortalised by Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher, is an advanced civilization populated by powerful demigods led by powerful kings. It has been a symbol of a long-lost utopia filled with advanced technology waiting to be discovered. According to the legend, this important civilisation got too greedy, and the people that inhabited the islet got “innocently busted”, petty, and got too involved in immoral hobbies that maddened the gods, who also transferred them one night of fire and earthquake that caused Atlantis to sink to the ocean. Once a lamp of culture and civilisation, this nation is buried with all its occupants under the ocean.

Experiencing Modern-Day Atlantis: Consequences of Global Warming - Sheet1
screenshot from 2001 Disney’s movie, Atlantis_©Atlanis

We don’t know how Atlantis’ citizens felt when buried under the sea. Yet, the sensation of witnessing nations worldwide sinking is a shared catastrophe we can sympathise with today. It raised concern because there is a lot of evidence that rising seas and sinking land affect a lot of nations, particularly coastal countries. Unlike Atlantis, which was wiped off in one night because of their greed, we are currently experiencing a modern-day version where we are slowly sinking because of our greed. It is no secret that the world is getting warmer due to global warming, and it has some environmental effect that is detrimental to people’s lives. For example, severe storms, warming and rising of the ocean due to melting ice sheets, loss of species, increased health risks, and poverty and displacement. 

We shaped our buildings as much as they shaped how we live, and the future of architecture cannot be separated from the climate of one of the countries with huge coastal lines and experiencing severe consequences of global warming in Indonesia. With the 4th largest population, Indonesia is one of the most impacted countries regarding sea level. As its capital, Jakarta lies on a low, flat basin and averages 7 meters above sea level. 40% northern part of Jakarta lies below sea level and is famous for its yearly flood. Alongside floods from the river, Jakarta is also sinking 5 to 10 cm per year, up to 20 cm in the northern part, due to groundwater misuse. The rising sea level and sinking ground are two major reasons Indonesia plans to move its capital to Borneo.

Experiencing Modern-Day Atlantis: Consequences of Global Warming - Sheet2
AHA Centre – Jakarta’s MH Thamrin Street During Flood_©Flickr

Let’s imagine the possibility of new architecture in the future! With the data above, we need a new building design concept to survive. I don’t think we have to make new buildings altogether; after all, construction emits 11% of carbon emissions worldwide – and it is much more sustainable to reuse or readapt existing buildings. What if we will no longer use roads as a main means of transportation due to the severely rising sea level and ocean water drowning our roads? Will we have to use a boat? It has already happened in some countries, and around the rainy season and flood coming, Jakarta’s citizens must use emergency boats to go to public transport such as busways or MRT. In the future, water transportation might be more common than our current mode of transportation. 

Imagine that instead of a garage for cars, we will need a boathouse in our house. And instead of ground level, we will have a water level. To reuse the building we already have right now, we can make our building more amphibious. We already have an amphibious plane that can fly and land on water; why not make our building amphibious too? Great adaptability is always a sign of thriving species in biology. It will be nice to see it translated into architecture. We have yet to determine how long it will take to reverse the consequences of global warming, and the effect of it already feels everywhere; why not reduce human suffering while we adjust our lifestyle?

The proposed concept of amphibious house at the time of floods_©author

Architecture used to be anthropocentric, and we put humans at the top and do not think of the long-term consequence for other living being, and in turn, a lot of citizens suffer since we are not in harmony with nature. There is not enough green open space, a lack of waterways so water will recirculate, loss of biodiversity in nature, sick building syndrome, and disturbing mental health all over the globe. Instead of focusing only on humans, it will be very beneficial to all if we consider the environment built not just in the analysis part but also in the long-term conservation of an original area. The rising of modern technology should not only benefit humans, but it is also responsible for the obligation to restore what has been destroyed. 

In conclusion, the future of architecture should be versatile and multipurpose – not just for human activity but also how to deal with climate and environmental change. Flexibility in architecture can be seen in nomadic tribes, usually in Central Asia, where they used tents and moved around every season to suit their environment and the herds. Even though our future buildings will not be in the same form, it is wise to learn how other cultures adapt to the needs of nature and animals. Whatever form it may take later, I think it is the job of an architect to take inspiration and turn it into a building in synergy with the environment. We are under an obligation to build and connect with nature, not detached from it and destroy what is left.

Citation : 

  1. Discover Magazine. (2010, October 10). “Where Is the Lost City of Atlantis, and Does It Even Exist?” Retrieved from https://www.discovermagazine.com/planet-earth/where-is-the-lost-city-of-atlantis-and-does-it-even-exist
  2. History.com. (n.d.). “Atlantis.” Retrieved from https://www.history.com/topics/folklore/atlantis
  3. NBC News. (2011, March 14). “Lost city of Atlantis believed found off Spain.” Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna42072469
  4. United Nations. (n.d.). “Key Findings – Climate Change: Science.” Retrieved from https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/science/key-findings#temperature-rise
  5. PBS NewsHour. (2023, March 9). “Why Indonesia Is Moving Its Capital from Jakarta to Borneo.” Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/why-indonesia-is-moving-its-capital-from-jakarta-to-borneo
  6. Trang, N., Malakova, A., Hanh, V., Voelker, E., Stopp, H., & Vukorep, I. (2018). Floating Settlements in Mekong Delta.

Miellyttävä Kuu is an aspiring architect with a formal education background of interior design. She lives in a magical place with hundreds of island, beautiful blue vast ocean and tropical rainforest, that is why she loves green architecture and biophilic design, she was born in it.