Design Excellence Award

Adapting to Sea Level Rise

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Design Excellence Award, Group Design Project
The design of a flood action plan to protect the islands of the Maldives to 2100 and beyond
Group Members
Oliver Bragg, Audrey Clauss, Stuart Field, Laura Gibbons, Milda Pladaite, Malcolm Szuplewski, James Watling

Professor R. Nicholls, Dr. A. Bloodworth, Dr. S. Brown

The Republic of the Maldives is the lowest lying nation on earth with its highest point just 2.4 metres above sea level. It is at great threat from sea level rise and its capital Malé could be rendered uninhabitable by 2100.

This project outlines adaptation pathways through which three of the most important islands in the Maldives can be protected well into the future.

The first island considered is Malé, the capital, which is the most populated and lowest lying islands in the world. There are few places more vulnerable to sea level rise. The majority of Malé’s defences were built in response to the 1987 flood event but are not sufficient to protect the island in the future. The island was modelled during a flood event and it was identified sea walls and breakwaters from which must be improved. In addition to improving the hard engineering structures it was also proposed to protect the islands critical infrastructure as well as creating designated managed flooding zones protecting the island up to 2100. Beyond this point there groundwater upon the island would be to a great of an issue to overcome.

The island of Hulhumalé was built north east of Malé in 2016 to deal with the countries growing popualtion and as a safer place from sea level rise. Despite this it could still succumb by 2200. Hulhumalé is at an earlier stage in its life and less densely populated than Malé. This therefore allows structures which blend into the environment making a nicer place to work and live. The island however is still not the perfect solution and could be flooded by 2200 no matter what protection is used.

The population of the Maldives is growing rapidly and the area around the capital could be at capacity as soon as 2050. A new concept island of Abadhah-Malé was designed to take on this challenge but also to be the safest Maldivian island to date. At 3.7m it would also be the highest island in the Maldives with which comes inherent safety. The island is planned from the outset to minimize flood risk with its very geometry and location designed to protect from sea. protecting the island well up to 2300.

The concept of Abadhah-Malé shows how with clear forethought and planning it is possible for the Maldives to survive well beyond 2100.

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