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Architecture Meets Water Sustainability

By 2060 over a billion people will be living in cities that are at risk of catastrophic flooding, according to a recent report by Christian Aid, a UK based charity. But rather than rely on huge, defensive sea barriers, the disciplines of engineering, architecture and landscaping are now working collaboratively to find intelligent, long term solutions.


One person's (or planet's) crisis is another's business opportunity, as London-based practice Baca Architects has found, after their Amphibious House project attracted major TV and media coverage for its innovative, floor friendly design back in 2016; set into concrete dock-like foundations, the house rises along with water levels.


Baca's schemes and ambitions have grown sustantially since then. By incorporating water intelligently into every aspect of its design - from landscaping down to filtration - Baca recently won planning permission for a four star leisure park, the £25m Tyram Lakes Hotel and Spa in South Yorkshire, to be operated by Campbell Gray Hotels. Set in a former quarry, the excavated land will form a series of lakes, complemented by the lush woodland already established in this 165-acre site. Floating among reed beds on the western lake will be 50 eco lodges, currently under construction.


The scheme isn't 100 per cent carbon neutral, says Baca director Richard Coutts, but the aim is to get as close as possible, with total self-sufficiency in energy and waste infrastructure: reed bed filtration will treat the site's sewage, the lake will act as a heat-exchange battery, and drinking water will be drawn from an existing aquifer below the site. Interior materials will also be primarily recycled or locally sourced. Coutt says: 'We are trying to ensure that this is both as luxurious and responsible as possible.' For the same operators, Baca is currently looking at other sites around the UK, as well as internationally. Baca is also collaborating with Water Studio in Holland to develop floating resorts, with a prototype resort lodge already bobbing on the harbour in Miami.


Read the full article by Veronica Simpson, visual arts/design writer and advocate for socially and environmentally intelligent design, in the VitrA Design Update #3.