Architects design house that can float on floodwater

As the flood waters start to recede thoughts are turning to how we can stop them from causing so much damage in the future.

With no control over nature we can either choose to build bigger defences or plan our cities to absorb or divert the flood water.

Artist's impression of 'floating house' Credit: BACA

Award winning architects BACA have been working for the last five years on how town planning can embrace water rather than fight against it.

What we have here is your traditional flood barrier and we can keep pouring more and more money into these but eventually mother nature will win and these will be overtopped.

The last time we had a real fundamental shift in the way we design our cities was with the advent of the motorcar and that changed the way we connected our highways, the way in which we placed our energy systems, the way in which we located out houses. With water this is actually going to be more of an impact in terms of our build environment.

The quantum of water we now need to absorb to make space for to integrate is going to mean a fundamental shift in the way we plan those cities.

– Richard Coutts, Architect

They're building the country's first amphibious house in Marlow. It has the ability to float above flood water.

Architect's drawing of how the house would float during a flood

Rather than building a big old flooded defence at the front of the house and the water overtopping what we've created here is an intuitive landscape and so at the front of the diagram. There are a series of flood cells and by the time the second series of flood cells has been inundated with water the house should have started to rise so at the moment the house is alined with the hydrology of the river so as the river water rises so does the water level underneath the building so as the garden become inundated the building will gently rise and after a flooding event it can just gently sit back in its mooring station.

– Richard Coutts, Architect

The solid concrete basement of the house acts like the hull of a boat. Plumbing and pipes will be flexible enough to cope with the movement and super yacht technology will ensure the house is always level even when afloat.

It isn't too difficult to build the construction techniques are very familiar to what we have everyday and therefore it's just applying those in a slightly more innovative fashion. So in terms of things like cost if we were to compare this like for like with an equivalent building we're looking for in the order of about a 20% uplift.

That is a large outlay upfront but may look like increasingly good value if insurance premiums continue to rise.

– Richard Coutts, Architect