Brushstrokes of Vision

In the calm sanctum of his home studio, practice director Richard Coutts delves into the foundational stages of his latest painting. Embracing the tactile joy of creation far removed from the digital realm, he begins with charcoal, sketching the embryonic outlines of what will soon blossom into a vivid landscape. The sky and mountains, first imagined in shades of gray, gradually receive their depth, layer by layer. For Coutts, this process is not just about applying colour to canvas; it's an intimate exploration of shadow play, a meticulous examination of the landscape before him, and a deep, sensory connection to the place he's bringing to life. This artistic journey is crucial for Coutts, as it informs his architectural vision, guiding him toward understanding what type of architecture would seamlessly blend with, and enhance, the natural beauty of this unique environment. Through his craft, Coutts celebrates the essence of making, marrying the worlds of art and architecture in each stroke and shade. ​

Misty River House 

Fusing tradition and modern methods of constructionThe Misty River House is a pre-existing residence situated in Henley upon Thames. The homeowners engaged Baca Architects to replace the current substandard dwelling with a meticulously designed amphibious house. This initiative aims to enhance the visual appeal of the riverfront while concurrently mitigating flood risk for its residents. The house is not located within a conservation area but is located within the local Greenbelt. The replacement dwelling will be amphibious. An Amphibious House is a building that sits on the ground, within a ‘dock’, and is designed to rise from its ‘dock’ on the rare occasion when an extreme flood occurs. This form of construction will help reduce the risk of the existing property and to the surrounding properties by providing additional flood storage under the building. This type of property has the benefit of improving the relationship of the building to the ground plain by providing fewer steps up to the building and eliminating the redundant void below the existing ground floor; that would occur if the replacement dwelling were to be stilted. It also provides an adaptable response to climate changes as the building will always float above the highest flood levels. Baca Architects built the UK’s first amphibious house in Marlow, Buckinghamshire almost a decade ago and the building is acknowledged nationally and internationally as an exemplar of flood mitigation design, especially in riverside locations.  Hydroscapes:  A meticulously planned garden by Richard Miers Garden Design (named ‘People’s Choice’ award winner at the Chelsea Flower Show 2022) serves as a natural flood alert mechanism. Terraces arranged at varying heights are strategically constructed to flood gradually, notifying residents well in advance of any imminent threat from rising floodwaters. At Baca Architects, we refer to this concept as ‘an intuitive landscape’. The bottom terrace features a lawn and wild flower meadow, the next one includes shrubs and plants, while the seating deck is situated one level above. The highest terrace, positioned just below the living room, acts as the peak point. This tiered arrangement aids in swift recovery by offering dry zones as water levels recede, and the plants play a role in minimizing the erosion of the embankment. The landscape will deliver a 10% ecological gain on the site. CONSTRUCTION: The replacement dwelling would be constructed from high quality materials. The building deploys an oak timber frame building combined with lime-rendered structurally insulated panels. This combines the best of low energy design and traditional craftsmanship with modern methods of construction. The building will be low energy construction and seeks to achieve low carbon construction in its build. The proposal has adopted energy hierarchy - to be lean, clean, and green; and archiving a significant reduction in Carbon emissions over current Part L Building regulations. The whole life carbon assessment demonstrated that the embodied carbon of the project will be less than refurbishing the existing building after every flood event throughout the building 75-year lifespan. CONCLUSION: The replacement dwelling will improve the riverfront frontage and create an attractive addition to the housing stock along this stretch of the river in Henley upon Thames. Considering that this is a replacement dwelling in flood zone 3, the proposed building will deliver a low carbon solution, high quality, beautiful, architectural design sympathetic to its setting and will protect the residents from flooding deep into the 21st Century. ​

Navigating the aftermath of Storm Henk

The aftermath of Storm Henk continues. Leicestershire and Nottingham declare major flooding incidents.  In the BBC Radio excerpt below (2hr 18mins in), Baca Director Richard Coutts briefly discussed the current challenges of the planning system. How can we, as planners, strike a balance between providing homes that are needed while ensuring they do not worsen flood risk? At an architectural scale, what solutions are available? The proceeding audio picks up on the fire service's response, plus the disruption and terrible damage caused to homeowners.  Over the next few weeks, we plan to post some 'What if?' mini-articles with our good friend and academic, Ripin Kalra. These articles will contain some bolder ideas for flood mitigation. Also, feel free to send us any solutions that you have come across outside the UK, and we'll endeavour to share them with as broad an audience as possible.  Read more about it here: ​

Adaptable Architecture in Bangladesh

Our flood-resilient research and hospitality architecture are taking us to Bangladesh. The site is located within the ‘Chars’, adjacent to the River Meghna – an area where the translation means ‘land that appears and disappears’. Because of these traits, this transient environment lends itself to adaptable architecture. The site will provide 100 lodges and a clubhouse.  The brief is focused on delta restoration, conservation of natural resources, and sustainable tourism that will provide a long-term framework for ongoing maintenance. At its heart, the eco-resort is made with renewable, local, and sustainable materials – crafted by local hands.  Much of the scope includes water management and how to develop adaptable architecture that works with the water cycle - from capturing rainwater on the site to save energy/carbon that would otherwise be required to pump fresh water to developing planting strategies to stabilize the soil. This includes mangrove restoration and in other areas growing bamboo that will both stabilize the soil and can also be used for future construction cycles.  The architecture is derived from a deep study of local construction techniques and a consideration of what is available locally. We’ll be developing further designs over the coming months, inspired by the strong silhouettes of the terracotta temples and by the stilted bamboo structures located within the delta.  Looking forward to collaborating with our good friend, Ripin Kalra of the Max Lock Centre again. More to follow in Spring.  #WaterRestoration #ClimateChange #Delta #Water #Sustainability #Architecture #Adaptability #Bangladesh​


Baca will be attending the fourth International Conference on Amphibious and Floating Architecture, Design and Engineering at the Institute for Floating Buildings (IfSB e.V.) and Brandenburg University of Technology (BTU) in Cottbus, Germany this week.Professor Edmund Penning-Rowsell OBE, will open proceedings with his talk titled: 'Don’t sterilise our floodplains: Use them creatively'. Edmund has over 40 years’ experience of research and teaching in the flood hazard field, analysing floods and investment in flood alleviation, river management, water planning and landscape assessment. He is full professor at Middlesex University, UK and founder of Flood Hazard Research Centre (FHRC), as a specialist Centre where they focus on the socio-economic and policy dimensions of floods. This Centre must be one of the oldest of its type in the world. He is also a Distinguished Research Associate at Oxford University Centre for the Environment. Edmund’s talk will feature some of baca’s built work: The UK's first amphibious house and Nijmegen, a £300m flood relief / river realignment scheme in Holland.Robert Newman, Senior Architect, will present Baca’s latest amphibious designs in a talk titled “When looking at amphibious projects, is resilience about the longevity of the building or longevity of the planet, or both?”We’re looking forward to seeing the photos from the site visit later.hashtag#amphibioushouse hashtag#climatechange hashtag#floodresilience hashtag#floating hashtag#architecture hashtag#design​

Monaco Smart Marinas 

For the Monaco Smart Marinas, we opened our pitch by discussing the beauty and efficiency of sailing, tapping into the setting of the event hosted at Monaco’s Royal Yacht Club. At its simplest, a piece of canvas can stretch using a simple mast and rigging. This canvas then becomes a sail, and this sail can propel a simple vessel across an ocean. It is efficient, clean, sustainable, and the journey is exhilarating. It does not require a huge spend, but the effect is substantial. So, for the competition, we decided to go for a refurbishment over a new build. We asked our team: ‘Can we preserve the building and instead of spending circa £25m on a new building – could we enhance its purpose and yet give it a radically different feel with a budget closer to £2.5 million? And could the design be fun and memorable?’ PRESERVE, REPURPOSE, REUSE The repurposing of the existing concrete structure into our boat club represents a harmonious fusion of sustainability and innovation. The existing building is orthogonal and utilitarian. Much is good and functional and can be repurposed. Our approach has been to open the corner and provide clarity and legibility to the entrance and reception area. Changing rooms and dry-stack are to be refurbished and upgraded. A new café is to be added, a lightweight structure to the existing roof. The most striking feature is the new ultra-marine blue façade that stands proud of the existing structure - Echoes of French Artist Yves Klein’s blue-sky work. The sculptural form signals the location entrance and organizes the activities that sit behind. From the ocean or the land, the building acts as a lighthouse, port, and sanctuary. #Monaco #Retrofit #Refurbish #Architecture #Marina #Monacosmartmarinas #design #yachts​

Ode to the Thames

In a moment of whimsy, Richard Coutts, found himself captivated by the allure of the Thames. During his stroll from the Bermondsey office to Deloittes in the City yesterday, he couldn't resist pausing to engage in conversation and even commission a spontaneous poem.​ The bustling city faded into the background as he took a poetic interlude by the riverbank. It was a reminder to everyone, including the busy denizens of the City, of the importance of slowing down. Sometimes it’s just good to slow down, enjoy the views of the river, and ponder the world from a different perspective.      

Glamping Show

Baca's spinoff company, Outdoor Sanctuaries, will be showcasing our designs for the Skylark, an eco-friendly luxury glamping experience at the Glamping Show today, tomorrow, and Saturday! If you're passionate about innovative outdoor experiences, sustainability, and luxury camping, make sure to visit our stand 1026 at the Glamping Show. Our team is on hand to showcase our latest creations and share insights into how we're redefining outdoor hospitality. Event Details:The Glamping Show, NAEC Stoneleigh, CV8 2LHToday, Tomorrow & Saturday9:30 AM - 5:30 PM Come explore our unique glamping solutions, designed to bring you closer to nature without compromising on comfort. Learn about our commitment to eco-friendly practices and discover the perfect blend of adventure and relaxation that Outdoor Sanctuaries offers. #GlampingShow #OutdoorSanctuaries #LuxuryCamping #Sustainability #InnovationInCamping​

Exploring New Horizons 

Site Visit to Mombasa Mombasa, a coastal gem on the shores of the Indian Ocean, offers a captivating blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Today's picture is from the team's site visit to Mombasa from our accommodation. The brief is for a Wellness and Detox Retreat as part of a boutique hotel. The 4-star resort will offer a much-needed break from our technological lives, providing an off-grid stay, locally grown food, and uninterrupted ocean views. The team will be visiting the city and other hotels locally. The aim is to explore different local construction techniques and delve further into materials.​


According to Flood Re, a partnership between the insurance industry and the UK Government, there are 2 million people across the UK exposed to 'frequent flooding.' They have a greater than 10% chance of being flooded in the next decade. Climate change and increased flooding are sadly two sides of the same coin. When our practice first started research in the flood sector, the average cost of repairing a flooded home was £22k. This has now risen to £32k. Some good news: 266,000 Flood Re policies were taken up in 2022. If flooded, Flood Re will provide up to £10K in addition to the repair costs to 'Build-back-better,' making homes more secure and more flood-resilient to what will inevitably come. Baca Director Richard Coutts was invited to the Launch of Flood Re's Transition Plan 2023 at the top of the Gherkin last week. Not only for the event but also as an architect, level 40 (building by Fosters & Partners) provides some of the best views of the City of London. It also affords a wonderful view of Lloyds of London by Richard Rogers.Laura Tobin, Meteorologist, and Weather Presenter provided a great introduction to the event and some sobering statistics on climate change. She rallied the audience to keep the global temperature within 1.5 degrees Celsius. At 1.5°C, summer maximum rainfall could increase by 4%. At 3°C, summer maximum rainfall could increase by 7%. Interspersed with dryer spells, the consequences of surface water runoff will be significant. For those considering buying a house soon, please enter your postcode into the EA’s searches.  It will give you an instant indication of the risk from both river and surface water flooding. Avoidance is key. If you can't avoid it, then utilize the government’s flood insurance.Link:​



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