Case Study: AJ Disruptors
'In a nutshell, describe your practice'
'The practice specialises in enabling, designing, and building on, in, near and (now) underwater. we call this ‘ Aquatecture’. within this specialism we have developed an expertise in floating and flood resilient building typologies'
'Tell us about a current project that exemplifies this...'
'In Stratford upon Avon we have replaced a 1960s block with 12 flood resilient homes. The landscaping goes far beyond the SuDs (sustainable urban drainage) approach, with water flowing below and around the buildings. In policy terms we have created a covenant across the whole site that allows for individual ownership but enables the development to work as a whole in terms of flood storage. The homes (in a conservation area) are deliberately familiar but raised 1.6 metres off the ground. We anticipate that this will become a model for most new homes in areas designated flood zone 2 or on the edge of flood zone 3.'
'What research are you undertaking at the moment?'
'Nationally, we are working with Yorkshire Water and the Environment Agency to identify opportunities to deliver our early proof of concepts at a much larger scale. Internationally, we are working with Norwegian Engineers (Core marine) and an Australian marine contractor (Subcon) to build an underwater ocean discovery centre two kilometres off the coast in Busselton, near Perth, WA.'
'Are architects paying enough attention to the need to design climate adaptive envrionments?'
'Great architectural buildings can be developed with an environmental and ecological foundation. In fact, this may lead to more innovation with respect to composition, materials and functionality. add in climate adaptive qualities and artificial intelligence, and the buildings of the future can have tangible societal benefits.'
'What can be done to give more priority to designing full flood resilience?'
'We are currently lobbying government directly for displacement technology and flood resilient measures to be adopted in the building regulations. We argue at a slight tweak will provide architects with the necessary liability protection, enable homeowners to secure mortgages, reduced Treasury expenditure after flood events and, most importantly protect homeowners.'
'What are your ambitions for your practice?'
We are a small, specialised practice, punching well above our weight. As we demonstrate proof of concept with our new buildings, developers and local authorities are taking notice. We are pleased that our books have become primary reading sources at a number of universities around the globe. This will be ultimate legacy, as these ideas are adopted and involved in new settings by new practitioners and academics. In the short term we will continue to scale up our pilot work. Our goal is for universal industry uptake within the next decade.'
“Our books have become primary reading sources at a number of universities around the globe. This will be our ultimate legacy as these ideas are adopted’.
Authors: Architect's Journal, Richard Coutts and Robert Pattison
Prompted by the climate emergency, this year the Architects Journal are featuring 25 practices and networks who they feel are each in their own way challenging the norm of traditional practice in their drive to work in a more sustainable manner.
The Architects Journal selected Baca Architects as we advocate the need for improved flood resilience in the built environment and asked us to describe our approach in our own words: