Flood houses of the future - winners announced

Article date: 26 November 2008

Floating homes, sunken pontoons and timber drawbridges are just some of the innovations presented by architects across the world in a bid to design a flood proof house for the future.

The competition launched by Norwich Union, with the support of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), aimed to see how architects would tackle the problem of building on flood plains in a liveable, workable and insurable way.

A total of 85 entrants from across the globe delivered plans for a family home and garden, that would form part of a larger residential development situated on a flood plain.

A panel of judges, from across the architectural and insurance industry, have selected four overall winners. Today in a special reception at the Thames Gateway Forum, each will receive their £3,500 prize money from Robert Napier, chair of the government's newly-formed Homes and Communities Agency.

"We were looking for innovative real-life solutions to what is an ever increasing threat to all of us," said Simon Black, head of flood mapping at Norwich Union.

"Clearly we would rather homes weren't built on flood plains, but we have to be realistic - with the Government planning to build three million new homes by 2020 there is a real likelihood this will happen. So how do we build homes that balance development needs with environmental change? This was the challenge and the results show excellent potential for homes of the future."

The four winners are:

  • Nissen Adams LLP based in London
  • Eleena Jamil Architects - based in Malaysia
  • Pohkit Goh - based in Edinburgh
  • Hopper Howe Sadler - based in Newcastle

While presenting some unique new ideas from timber-skinned glass living rooms, to concrete dados and roof gardens to raised footpaths, three main solutions were evident throughout the entries: Raising properties and their surroundings above ground level, allowing part or all of the house to float in the event of a flood and allowing the continuous use of a property if water does enter the home.

Sunand Prasad, RIBA president, said: "It has been fascinating and instructive for the RIBA together with Norwich Union to explore how design-led solutions can respond to the flooding challenge.

"Reducing the risk of flooding does not begin and end with concrete walls and buildings on stilts, as the results of the competition show. Good design lies at the heart of creating communities that are more resilient against flooding, of lessening the cost caused by flooding when it does occur and of minimising the impact it has on local livelihoods and safety. The variety of the approaches demonstrated by the entrants shows the enormous potential of design-led solutions."

Norwich Union and the RIBA will now present the winning ideas to developers and town and country planners in the hope that it will stimulate new ideas and solutions on how to deal with homes and flood risk.


Press office contacts:
Rebecca Holmes, Norwich Union press office
Telephone: 01603 685177 or 07800 690731 
E-mail: rebecca.l.holmes@norwich-union.co.uk

Helen Rix, RIBA Head of Press
Telephone: 0207 307 3884 
E-mail: Helen.Rix@inst.riba.org

Notes to editors:

For more information on the competition and the winning entries go to www.flooddesigncompetition.co.uk/ (link is no longer active)

Norwich Union is the UK's largest general insurer with a market share of around 15%, with a focus on insurance for individuals and small businesses.

It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.

In the summer of 2009 Norwich Union will change its name to Aviva. Aviva is the world's fifth largest insurance group and operates in 27 countries. Aviva is to become the customer brand worldwide, thus enabling the company to compete even more effectively on a global scale for the benefit of customers, staff, business partners and shareholders.

Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at www.aviva.com/media.

The Royal Institute of British Architects is the UK body for architecture and the architectural profession. It provides support for its members in the form of training, technical services, publications and events, and sets standards for the education of architects, in the UK and overseas. With Government, the RIBA works to improve the design quality of public buildings, new homes and new communities. Its annual regional award schemes recognise outstanding architecture and culminate in the RIBA Stirling Prize.

From its London headquarters, the RIBA helps the public to learn more about the built environment through exhibitions and talks, information services, and a library that includes an unrivalled collection of books, photographs and manuscripts. At the Victoria and Albert Museum, the RIBA hosts exhibitions, archives, talks and shared study facilities in partnership with the V&A.

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