Watermarks, RSAW Spring School

Vision Event, London 2-3 June 2015 – Amphibious And Flood-Resilient Homes Workshop

Baca were extremely pleased to be invited to speak at Watermarks, the Spring School of the Royal Society of Architects Wales.  The conference had a fantastic programme offering insight into “Architecture in a fluid world” curated by Mary Wrenn. Geraldine Holland, Architect at Baca, spoke on behalf of the practice.


Professor Jessica Lamond, Flood Risk Management at University of West of England, chaired the event, starting with an introductory presentation offering her extensive insight into working in flood risk.  Lamond is an old friend to Baca Architects, having collaborated on the LifE project (Long-term initiatives for Flood-risk Environments) while she was at Defra over 10 years ago, as well as the World Flood Handbook.


The first of several ‘inspiration hour’ talks was by Jankirk Hoekstra, Advisor and Landscape Architect, H+N+S Landschapsarchitecten, Amersfoort.  Hoekstra gave a lively and informative presentation into the history of human intervention in flood resilience in Holland. 

 “In a country where more than half the land is at or below sea level, flooding is a constant vulnerability for The Netherlands. Landscape architecture design office H+N+S describe their work as ‘engineering art’, contributing to a meaningful relationship between people and the environment”


This history of sustainable approaches to construction to harmoniously inhabit a natural world place the Netherlands at the forefront of building for flood resilience and the UK look to their neighbour for insight into how to inform our practice here.

Baca’s presentation touched on their vision of a world living harmoniously with the natural environment and change in climate, and how this vision is shared by Waterstudio, dutch based practice led by Koen Olthius.  


Geraldine Holland presentated 3 Baca case studies to illustrate the practical approach that Baca has evolved in looking to a future increasingly threatened by flood. In researching and studying flood environments over a decade, Baca are incrementally advancing changes in approach, step by step.  This is a multi-pronged approach, starting with their design and planning guidance, going on to roles advising on policy with a firm basis in piloting the UK’s first amphibious house and other flood resilient construction methods.


The Amphibious House is a favourite project of the practice and is perhaps the most well-known for having featured on television programme Grand Designs.  This pioneering approach has led to other innovations.  The Shipston Road development of 11 homes regenerates a brownfield site in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, which is flood zones 2 and 3. The careful neighbourhood planning, landscape and infrastructure design and construction methods come together in a highly technical strategy to ensure safe and dry homes in a beautiful residential environment where fluctuating water levels are celebrated in the gardens and recreation spaces.  Tyram Lakes takes Baca Architects expertise into another dimension, that of a floating eco resort for a 5* leisure destination. The hotel has a fully integrated flood resilient strategy for building in Flood Zone 2. The floating lodges inhabit the lakes. The development regenerates a former industrial site to a flourishing natural environment for wildlife.


Following this shared presentation described the changes to the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea: ‘From waterside development to tidal lagoon – reflections on the ambitions of a city by the sea and the wider region.  Jane Davidson, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Sustainability and Engagement, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea, and Pierre Wassenaar, Director, Head of Technology and Innovation Stride Treglown Architects, Cardiff told of their experience in the development of a fantastic piece of city, on the edge of the sea, is being reinvented as university campus.


Finally, Simonetta Cenci and Alfonso Femia, of Ateliers Alsfonso Femia, gave an inspiring lecture on their multi-scale approach to architecture - simultaneously studying the wider city whilst crafting fine details of public space. Their presentation of Genoa as a changing waterfront port city demonstrated the practices ability to balance poetic and technical thinking. The Marseille project ‘Les Docks’ illustrates the practice as both fine artists, strategic urban planners and respectful community and heritage renovators.


The site of Portmeirion was an absolute delight. The famous Welsh hospitality lived up to it’s name and the warmest welcome in Sir Clough William-Ellis’s stunning architectural icon. We hope to return next year!




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