When you’re looking for innovations in floating architecture, the best place to look is the Netherlands. The low-altitude country is facing the very real threat of rising water levels swallowing their homeland. To counter the encroaching ocean, they have been building floating houses that can rest on land, but rise with the water level during periods of particularly high water.
But the Dutch aren’t the only Europeans looking into architecture as a way to solve their aquatic woes. United Kingdom officials just recently gave the thumbs up to Baca Architects, allowing them to build the UK’s first ever floating house.
This house will be built on a tiny island located on the Thames River near Buckinghamshire, a region that is particularly susceptible to dramatic flooding. The innovations of this floating house design should allow people to live in this previously uninhabitable area.
For all 354 days out of the year, this house will function just like any other house. It sits on a foundation, it bears the same architectural characteristics of other houses in the neighborhood, and it looks like you’re average, run-of-the-mill British abode.
But when the day comes that intense rain causes the Thames to flood, all of the house’s aquatic bells and whistles will come into play. The naturally buoyant house will rise up and float serenely on the flood waters. What prevents it from floating down the river and ending up in the English Channel, you ask? Well, the house is somewhat locked in place by pillars that extend deep into the ground. They create a sort of cage that prevents the house from moving in any direction other than up and down. With this setup, the water levels would have to rise higher than the guideposts (currently an impossibility) for the house to break free of the foundation.
Baca Architects are hoping to use this house as a focal point for British citizens, as they argue that rising water levels due to climate change will make floating houses such as these a basic necessity. They believe that “Amphibious design is one of a host of solutions that can enable residents to live safely and to adapt to the challenges of climate change and we are very much looking forward to constructing the first example of this approach in the UK.”