London-based Baca Architects — a soggy-minded architectural firm that’s worked on projects in two particularly flood-prone areas, The Netherlands and New Orleans — has received permission by the Environment Agency to construct the U.K’s very first amphibious home on a small island situated on the River Thames in historic Marlow, Buckinghamshire.
Designed to, as World Architecture News puts it, “respond to the uncertainties of future climate change,” the three-bedroom, timber-framed contemporary home measuring 2,400-square feet is an intriguing work of green home design — features include high levels of insulation and high-performance glazed windows — never mind the fact that when the Thames, located just 30-odd feet away, runneth over, the residence transforms into a free-floating pontoon, rising up to nine feet from its fixed foundations and floating atop the floodwaters. The home is anchored in its reinforced concrete dock by four permanent vertical guideposts normally found at your run-of-the-mill marina called dolphins. I guess you could think of the home, when in flood-mode, as a houseboat that doesn't go anywhere.
The home’s terraced garden — dubbed as an “intuitive landscape” by the architects — acts as a warning system of sorts as each level (water-absorbing reeds followed by shrubs and plants followed by grass) is designed to flood incrementally. The tri-level garden not only gives the home’s residents ample time to prepare before the structure is "unlocked" from its dock by water pressure but also manages run-off when the floodwaters subside.
Richard Coutts, director of Baca Architects, tells The Telegraph:
People have always enjoyed living near water, because of the soothing sounds and wildlife and for fishing and sailing – but the downside is it is vulnerable to flooding. We created an amphibious home which works like a marina. The residents can live safely without the risk of losing their possessions and adapt to the challenges of climate change. When the water subsides all they will have to do is tidy up the garden.
Flood-safe housing doesn’t come cheaply, however. At an estimated value of £1.5 million, the project costs roughly 25 percent more to construct than a similar-sized, non-amphibious home. However, significant savings come into play with slashed insurance costs. It's due for completion later this year.
Hungry from more floating abodes? Click here to read more about FLOAT House, a prefabricated shotgun-style residence designed by Morphosis Architects for Make It Right's green rebuilding campaign in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward.