BACA Architects have just gained planning permission for building an Amphibious House.
An amphibious house is a building that rests on the ground on fixed foundations but, whenever a flood occurs, the entire building rises up in its dock and floats there, buoyed by the floodwater. The Local Authority and Environment Agency supported this proposal because it was a replacement dwelling so flood risk was reduced on this site. -BACA
So this building is essentially like a boat in a dry dock. When the water is at a normal level the house sits in its concrete dry dock. When the water level rises the house, in its drydock, rises also. An old idea applied to a new theme, which makes it novel and fascinating. I really hope it gets built and that the Architects and owner will follow-up and show us how it works during its first big flood.
Although it is clear this will never be a standard design option, it’s going to cost a lot more than a standard house or a floating one for that matter. Rather I guess it was designed this way to overcome the problems inherent in the site and that as the quote states, in a conservation area, it’s a replacement house but with much improved flooding protection.
Also note the strategic thinking behind the design concept. I have only just started reading it, so I can’t say for sure, but it may also be analogous to the ideas in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s new book Antifragile. Measures to prevent flooding can and do fail, we should realise we can’t beat nature at its own game all the time. Good flood protection should also mean good flooding response and adaptation, as flooding will inevitably happen. The Dutch show this clearly although they drain, pump and dam water they allow for flooding when it does happen….when it can’t be prevented. This one house encapsulates the way of thinking about nature we all should adopt.