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Baca wins go-ahead for flood-proof 'country house clause' Essex home

  • 3 Comments

Baca Architects has been given the go-ahead for a flood-proof ‘country house clause’ family home in the Thames estuary

The house in Maylandsea, Essex, was approved under Paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework – an exemption allowing new-build homes in the open countryside under ‘special circumstances’.

The 250m² ark-like house features an elevated first floor, a protective bund wall surrounding a ‘manicured garden’ and an automated barrier to defend the entrance and garage from flood water.

Baca founder Richard Coutts said: ‘The house will act as a flood-proof exemplar in an area that is prone to flooding, and will raise the standards locally for well-designed low-energy architecture together with an exemplary standard of domestic-scale renewable energy production.

’While an innovative solution to flooding, this building will also be a thing of beauty. The decorative screens inspired by the salt marshes will emulate the magical qualities of caustics that will dance across the internal ceilings and walls.’

Work is expected to start on site in September.

Img 2047 retouched

Img 2047 retouched

The architect’s view

The building design takes its inspiration from coastal references such as fortified boathouses, sea walls and the coastal landscape. The proposal is to rebuild the residential property previously on the site, replacing it with a flood-resilient property with the primary living areas elevated to first floor level, offering panoramic views of the surrounding Blackwater Estuary. This is above the 1 in a 1,000 years flood level plus climate change allowance plus freeboard, providing a ‘safe haven’ for occupants and neighbours during a flood event.

Wrapping around this structure at ground level, will be a garden wall, which both creates a courtyard garden plus a flood defence to protect the private garden, entrance and garage from a 1 in 100-year flood event. The large cantilevered floorplate gives the impression that the building appears to float in the landscape above the flood-resilient garden.

The design aspires to meet the Passivhaus Standard for the occupied portion of the house, incorporating the principles of good insulation, minimising thermal bridging, increasing thermal mass, excellent air tightness and using mechanical ventilation and heat recovery. Photovoltaic solar slates on the roof will generate enough electricity to meet the energy demand of the building’s occupants.

188 [6] v kitchen

188 [6] v kitchen

Project data

Location Maylandsea, Essex
Type of project Flood-proof family dwelling approved under NPPF Paragraph 55
Client Private
Architect Baca Architects
Landscape architect Open Spaces
Structural engineer StructureHaus
M&E consultant Kaizenge
Main contractor Contractor Self Build - ID Corcoran
Funding Confidential
Start on site date 4 September 2017
Completion date To be confirmed
Contract duration 12-18 months
Gross internal floor area 250m²
Form of contract and/or procurement JCT Design and Build Contract 2016 (JCTDB16). Traditional procurement route during RIBA Stage 1-3 with Baca Architects acting as project lead
Total cost Confidential

  • 3 Comments

Readers' comments (3)

  • "The decorative screens inspired by the salt marshes will emulate the magical qualities of caustics that will dance across the internal ceilings and walls."

    Archispeak at its very, very best/worst.

    Really; ridiculous statements such as this can only lower the level of trust between the public and the profession.

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  • Setting a precedent for loosing our flood plains is Not a good thing. Concreting around gardens to flood proof them is daft - tidal water comes up through the ground too.
    I have designed and just finished building a flood-proof house at Point Clear - St Osyth, with the living accommodation on the top two floors. It too has amazing views of the backwater estuary, but it was a brown site. Flood proof houses are a good idea but not at expense of natural countryside.

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  • Having spent a little more time reading the article, I can only state that the hero of the build will be the Structural Engineer - That is - if he can make the project work at all.
    When confronted with new challenges it is wise to consult with those who have gone before. Building on flood plains and hurricane zones is everyday practice for designers in the southern states of the USA and I can state quite categorically - this project wouldn't fly.

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