BACA Architects





Location: UK,  Scale: 0.48Ha,  11No. Residences, 22.000 sqft GIA


Works are due to commence on site this year on a truly unique residential project comprised of 11 high-quality homes. This scheme is the first of its kind in the UK, in that the development sits in an area identified by the Environment Agency as a flood plain area. The scheme has been designed and has secured Planning Approval to be resistant to this environmental phenomenon.


The proposal regenerates a brownfield site bounded on its eastern site by an elevated tramway path, which is currently occupied by a derelict, three storey, 70’s apartment block.


The seemingly normal domestic setting is carefully designed to suit the context of the existing neighbourhood, yet rests on highly technical know-how. The design integrates engineering, environmental infrastructure, contemporary construction methods, urban planning and landscaping to create beautiful homes in a safe, dry environment.


Sustainability; Long term environmental solution

The proposed development taken as a whole is a high-quality design with the effective and homogeneous application of the very latest technologies, in the response to the ongoing challenge of sustainability and low energy consumption.
From the outset the project was approached from the perspective of achieving a long term, environmentally sustainable solution to the peculiarities of this particular site. Since inception the proposals have been developed with the aim of enhancing the character of the immediate surrounding area, whilst maintaining a measured respect for the local architectural character and ultimately producing a high-quality environment in which people will want to live.

The site responds to the flood risk of the location generally, in mitigating the increasing level and regularity of flood events arising out of continued and unrelenting climate change. This successful proposal, and its detailed technical design is a physical manifestation of successful flood risk mitigation, utilising a like-for-like flood storage compensation strategy in an effective and approved manner. This approach has to date, not previously been possible at a commercial scale, in a financially viable way. This first successful implementation, provides a base template, which potentially allows numerous other low value, brownfield, flood prone sites, to be utilised in a positive manner, which was previously not possible or considered feasible.


Flood mitigation strategy: a fully integrated approach

This scheme is pioneering in that the development sits in an area identified by the Environment Agency as a flood plain area (flood zones 2 and 3). The scheme has achieved planning approval and has been designed to be resistant to the increasing threat of flooding and even provide betterment for flood storage on the site. The flood mitigation strategy employs many of the LiFE (Long-term Initiatives for Flood Risk Environments) principles developed for Defra, to ensure that the new development does not increase flood risk to the residents and the surrounding area.


This seemingly ordinary domestic, comfortable living environment rests
on intelligent, technical know-how combining several elements operating
at a range of scales.


The houses have been elevated on piles so that all floor levels are safely raised above the predicted flood levels. The piled construction system helps to reduce the footprint and a “Flood Trim” (a bespoke removable louvered system) around the base of each dwelling allows flood storage beneath, whilst preventing vermin and rubbish accumulation under the buildings. The street is also raised to create a safe high ground that provides level access to the houses and safe car parking for residents. A footbridge connected to the raised street provides egress for residents to a safe haven on the adjacent Tramway cycle path in the event of a flood. Excessive surface floodwater during heavy rainfall is managed by creating space for water in a floodable playground/garden with rain gardens (shallow planted depressions) that filter water before it enters the groundwater system. Permeable paving will be used on all hard standing surfaces and large below ground cellular attenuation tanks will help reduce pressure on the existing sewerage system.


The basic design involves the positioning of the primary habitable floor level of residences above that of the predicted level of flood, (plus freeboard allowance) and permitting uninterrupted passage of water under dwellings. This is supplemented by raised external private amenity space. Enlarged communal external spaces, for recreation and play, are designed to be permeable, Minimising water runoff and preventing water logging. This external space is designed in a manner which minimises the potential of obstruction to free-flowing water, and together with flood resistant/non-invasive species of grass planting, etc…, assists in the absorption of excess waters.


Importantly, no bed spaces are located at ground level and the combined provisions means occupants can dwell in a familiar setting with flood mitigation measures stealthily and sensitively integrated in the architecture and urban realm.


The build is scheduled to start on site in July 2018 and proposals demonstrate a transferable model that can be replicated to provide resilient housing on strategic sites at risk from flooding.

Baca Architects is led by Richard Coutts.  We are specialised in architecture, urban planning and research related to living, working and recreation on water.



T:          (+44) 020 7397 5620 


A:          199 Long Lane, London, SE1 4PN


Royal Institute of British Architects
British Chambers of Commerce
Urban Design Group


Baca Architects
Baca Architects