Traditionally, flood mitigation and defense system take on a defensive approach in terms of design. From expensive concrete flood walls to sandbagging etc, the task of flood prevention can be quite daunting when employing this approach. But, Imagine a house, that could adapt itself to flood water, redefining what it means to be ‘flood proof’. Not by keeping water out or resisting it (like many failed traditional attempts) but by adapting to the water levels as they rise, able to float gently like a boat at dock. Done Imagining? Now, behold “FORMOSA”, the UK’s First Amphibious Floating House.
Formosa is designed with the knowledge that man cannot defeat nature, so he should rather make space and adapt to it. To this end the house can or is designed to float on water as it rises and gently float back down as it subsides. Its location on an island along a flood plain (Flood Zone 3b to be exact), about 10m for the famous River Thames, was appropriate. The area has a high risk of flooding, hence its flood plain designation, thus, water has to be allowed to flow or be stored in the event of flooding. This means that any building situated there has to be able to operate anytime there is flooding and it should not impede flowing water or the storage of it.
This meant, that the designers, Baca Architects, had the great task of convincing the Environmental Agency in the UK of the project’s viability. The director, Robert Barker, explained that
“Options for the site included either a floating or an elevated property,“A floating property would be in the river course, which was not allowed by the Environment Agency at this location. An elevated building would be set high enough to avoid an extreme flood but almost a storey away from the garden….”
So a fully floating structure was disallowed, while one on stilts would have offered a disconnected living experience. So what could work?
“…An amphibious house solves these issues by allowing occupants to enjoy their garden, only rising to avoid floods when necessary.”
Some may question the validity and potential of this novel scheme, which is permissible. The following statement may offer some respite to the skeptics,
“The cost of rising insurance premiums for buildings located within flood-prone areas has created demand from the construction industry to innovate and evolve building technologies, …amphibious construction to date has only been used in small buildings but it has the potential to overcome flood risk on a much larger scale by creating whole floating platforms or even floating villages and towns. This could provide a cost effective solution to regenerating or preserving important sites where relocating residents and communities would have dire social and economic consequences.”
As you must have guessed, being in the UK, such a ‘grand’ design had to be featured on none other than “Grand Designs”, heres a link