Floating house rises to flooding challenge

Story highlights

  • Plans for amphibious home on banks of UK's River Thames gets planning consent
  • Private dwelling will rise if surrounding area floods creating a "free floating pontoon"

Building a home with a floor beneath ground on a plot next to a flood-prone river might seem like a recipe for disaster. But not when it's designed to float.

The "amphibious house" was recently granted planning permission for construction on a island on the River Thames in Marlow -- a small town 35 miles west of London.

The upper part of the house is constructed from lightweight timber, according to its creators Baca Architects, while a concrete basement level sits inside a "wet dock" consisting of a base slab and four retaining walls.

Should the worst happen the house turns into a "free-floating pontoon" with vertical guideposts running up the building's exterior preventing it from drifting off downstream.

Sea level rise: Impacts and mitigation measures

A terraced garden will also surround the property encouraging incremental flooding while also helping manage run-off when water levels start to subside.

Richard Coutts, director of Baca Architects said in a statement: "From the outset, we sought the expert advice of the (UK) Environment Agency to determine the most appropriate construction model to mitigate flood risk on the site and provide a safe dwelling, sympathetic to its setting and fit for the challenges of the 21st century.

"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," he added.