Baca completes amphibious house on the River Thames

This video shows the UK’s “first amphibious house” by Baca Architects, which is located on the banks of the River Thames in Marlow, Buckinghamshire and has just been completed.

Baca Architect’s Richard Coutts and Robert Barker designed Formosa for an island in the middle of the River Thames.

Faced with building on a site prone to unpredictable flooding, the architects set about creating a design that could mitigate the risk of interior flooding.

The result is a building that sits on fixed but separate foundations – like a shipping dock – so that when the Thames bursts its banks the structure will float above water level.

This defence mechanism can cope with up to 2.5 metres of floodwater – well above projected flood levels for the area. Four guide posts control and and support the movement.

The house was nearing the end of its construction in late 2014, but is now complete and float tested.

“With flooding become a regular occurrence in the UK and elsewhere isn’t it time we started to learn to live with it?” said Coutts and Barker.

“Scientists appear to agree that the sort of weather we have seen over the last few weeks is likely to become much more prevalent,” they added. “If this is the case then maybe we need to be a bit more pro-active in building in measures to cope with flooding if it does occur rather than hoping that the flood defences will protect people.”

The house is covered in shiny zinc shingles and has glazed gable that faces the Thames and a small ramped garden that slopes up from the edge of the river and is designed to act as an early flood warning.

Every few years the dock will be pumped fill of water to test the movement, as the site does not flood on a regular occurrence.

The property has a pitched roof to complement the irregular roofline of neighbouring homes and an overall footprint that is no larger than the old demolished property.

The house is plumbed with flexible pipes that can stretch by up to 3 metres as the house floats, allowing the residents to continue as much as possible with everyday life.

Coutts and Barker have long been advocates for floating architecture, recently winning an NLA ideas competition to deploy small prefabricated houses on London’s disused waterways.

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