by Meghna MehtaFeb 24, 2020
Experts in waterfront design and flood resilience, London-based Baca Architects have completed construction of their latest disaster-resilient residential project established near the historic spine of Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. Their designs for 11-high quality homes have regenerated a brownfield flood-risk site that has laid inactive for over a decade, relieving the effects of inundation in an Environment Agency Flood Zone 2 and 3 designated area.
Baca Architects were appealed to aid in revitalising a brownfield site that is witness to urban flooding on the main road into Stratford upon Avon. The clients relied on the firm's vast experience and expertise in the field to find a solution to the challenging design, something that many developers have been unsuccessful with. The architects employed several effective strategies that tackle the site footprint that is completely floodable.
The project combines housing with a landscape solution, showcasing a cost-effective design that is both saleable, replicable and resilient beyond centuries. Raised pedestrian pathways and cycle routes connect the houses elevated on piles, with the floodable zone below guarded against debris by louvred screens. A steadily sloped road provides access from the middle of the site, amongst the landscaped green space, rain gardens and swales that help maintain and manage water run-off.
Planned as a set of detached and terraced townhouses, all the residential units share a communal garden and amenity space within the compact site. The dwellings gently step from the edges of the site while producing elevated ground floor levels, conserving the terrain of the ridge heights along Shipston Road. Harmonising with the existing urban grain, the domestic setting meticulously moulds the topography and built form to lift the habitable spaces out of the floodplain.
Water is channelled through the site via several strategies, one being the elevated stilts that support the dwellings, whose voids are protected by permeable “flood trims” around the perimeter. Water also flows along the sloping site, a result of the level changes between the steps and amenity terraces between the ground and habitable floors. The interventions provide flood storage locally and relieve flood pressure to the neighbouring sites.
Providing a safe haven to residents of the area, the redevelopment of the site will avoid bed spaces at the ground floor level. All principal floors are elevated above the Environment Agency’s 100-year plus 20 per cent climate change fluvial flood level of 37.18m AOD. Rainwater gathered from the roofs is emptied and stored separately from the space given for river flooding. The large area for water storage also substitutes as a natural filtration system, which cleans the water before it is let out into the drainage system.
Speaking about the project, principal architect of Baca Architects, Richard Coutts, explains, “This is a clear strategy to unlock those brownfield sites located within floodplains or next to rivers to provide homes at the heart of city centres. It’s good sustainable development in terms of transport and locating people where the jobs are, but it’s also another way of resisting urban sprawl into the green belt”.
The new development exhibits creative solutions that mitigate the impending effects of flooding and climate change. The project serves as a model for new housing that is to be developed safely in urban areas, without requiring to expand into the greenbelt. The flood resilient model can also discharge flood pressure on existing neighbouring sites.
(Text by Ankitha Gattupalli, intern at stirworld.com)