MSA Stage 5 School of Architecture

Gracjan Labowicz

Graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from the University for the Creative Arts in Canterbury School of Architecture in 2014. Worked as part I assistant in the small and medium residential sector for 5 years, to then join Glasgow School of Art & Mackintosh School of Architecture in 2020 and continue postgraduate study. During my Diploma of architecture postgraduate study, I challenged my architectural consciousness by looking for unique lines of inquiry into original endeavours.

The sustainability of design actions and reactions to climate change consequences were at the forefront of the final design thesis. The proposal challenges traditional ways of responding to the issue of future flooding due to climate change. This speculative and experimental design occurs in a new flooded environment with a new set of design conditions, opening an alternative window for solutions that would transform the cities in the context of flood control.

Case studies on existing city flood defense strategies have shown the costs, Co2 emission, duration of construction, and eventual failures of mega-projects as inadequate in the climate change timetable. These structures cannot be entirely relied on- they are lumps of fragile, breakable concrete. The counterforce: water; it is an incredibly complex and robust matter. Almost impossible to predict its behaviour. With so little time to plan, a focus and ideological shift are needed. Instead of working up an outdated Victorian mentality of keeping water away from cities, adopting ideas that welcome excess water into them and manage it through urban water reservoir projects, flooding squares, and renaturation of the river bank and surrounds- part of sponge city ideology.

Noah’s Arc in Reverse

Noah’s Arc in Reverse

The inaction of governments pre & post COP26 and blatant ignorance of the issue of climate change in public debate and its near future trivial consequences begs for urgent action and preparation for this new design environment in our cities.

In the light of the climate crisis and global warming trajectory capped at a current level of co2 emissions reaching 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2100. As a consequence of the water level increase and increased annual rainfall in Glasgow, the shoreline will only expand. Projected flooding renders the new elevation 3 meters higher than the current by 2030 and 5 meters by 2100. The scale of damage and potential paralysis of existing city networks and current economies and industries of Glasgow will be substantial.

Portrayed through a fictional scenario, it is a story of Cyan Society taking over Govan Dry Docks. This new secret society builds a high flooding prevention wall around the site’s perimeter- foretelling the story of the great flood is on its way to the rest of the city. It prepares the city for the flood. It focuses on lobbying for nature-based solutions to the flooding issue instead of creating mega-projects such as dams or storm barriers. Immediate action is taken by making room for the natural environment in the urban context via greening the city with plants as a form of protest.

“Action is needed now- the inaction and government’s ignorance of the issue will lead us nowhere.”

The site contextualizes a long-term disaster planning site for the city’s nature-based interventions. This new group focuses on designing a new water security framework and flooding control within public domain space. It also facilitates the implementation plan on a city scale. Work is carried out from the last standing, evocative, and most complete heritage site in Glasgow’s shipbuilding history- Govan Dry Docks. What challenges will Cyan society in building against this unknown force of flood? How can such intervention be tackled sustainably and with use of renewable materials? Will the new approach to flooding control via the implementation of nature-based solutions balance out the significant carbon debt that such industrial sites contributed to? Will the message of warnings finally be heard before it’s too late? Can this approach to dealing with flooding be perceived as a palatable proposition to the general public and become a saviour of the city of Glasgow?

Author: Gracjan Labowicz

Tutor: Mr. Charles Sutherland

Location, site: Glasgow, Govan Dry Docks,

Tags: Inaction in context of climate change, Flooding, Sustainable Flooding Defences, Sponge City, Wetlands,
Planning for flooding, Nature based solutions, Noah’s Arc.

Noah's Arc in Reverse

Flooding Forecast in Glasgow

Foretelling floods in Glasgow in future.
Climate emergency chain of consequences.

Climate emergency chain of consequences.

Master plan of possibilities/ Mission Statement

Noah’s Arc. Disaster Planning Facility anticipating Flooding Era in Glasgow.

Sustainable flooding defence tension framework erected around the perimeter of heritage asset housing programme supporting the action for a city-wide flooding control interventions.

Noah’s Arc in Reverse Explained. Components & Architectonics of the intervention. Design Parti

Vast scale of the proposal and incremental systems assembly symbolic to future efforts required in battle against climate change consequences. Building against unpredictable forces of nature.

Noah’s Arc in Reverse Explained. Sustainable Flooding Defence Wall System.

Scaffolding. Methodology in Battle of Forces.

Site Context Section

Manufacturing Chain

On site design, construction & materials processing. ‘Manufacturing Chain’- Inhabitation of scaffolding tension matrix.

Knowledge Division

Open Space of Scaffolding matrix inhabited with Pavilions & Preservation Vault- ‘Knowledge Division’- Inhabitation of scaffolding tension matrix.

Disaster Planning Division

Elevated walkway within scaffolding matrix inhabited with Pavilions & Creativity Vault, Presentation Chamber,Briefing Chamber- ‘Disaster Planning Division’- Inhabitation of scaffolding tension matrix.

Productive environment Plant growing facility.


Cyan Society meeting with Leader in Briefing Chamber of Noah’s Arc.


Cyan Society architects and planners at work. Open Spaces with divisions allow for studio like atmosphere and exchange of ideas and views.

City Strategy Presentation

Cyan Society architects and planners at work. Presentation of proposal utilising all of vacant and derelict land across the city as potential sponge projects. Public debate.

Knowledge Division

Cyan Leaders greeting public in Knowledge Division. Transport Museum Collection on temporary display.

‘Don’t worry, things are going to turn out ok, son.’

Illustration of young generation having to face future consequences of global warming.

View from the Bridge

This dramatic vision of the city under flood is a feasible scenario if no flooding strategy is adopted soon.


Complex framework representing scale of efforts required to battle climate change consequences

Exhibition Wall

Sponge City ideology and green solutions to flooding.

River naturalisation and expansion/ Urban Water reservoirs/ Use of cities public land for flood water containment.

Interior Office Pavilions A

Gracjan Labowicz CV

Cyan Society Dance

Cyan Society dance encompasses the efforts we have to consider in the battle with global climate change. Floods will become part of our everyday existential lives, it's time to inhabit the water. The dance its a tribal rite of passage to call the powers of nature to stop further rain. This architectural project explores means of sustainable flooding defence. What you experience in this video is the protected area of former Govan Dry docks housing disaster planning department, knowledge and research division, and manufacturing chain, utilizing all possible sustainable solutions in the context of climate change and the future of construction- sole use of wood and renewable natural material sources such as seaweed. Music by Gracjan Labowicz as part of Electronic Music Design Elective Course Video by Gracjan Labowicz