The family home, designed by Baca Architects, sits on a flood prone island in the middle of the River Thames near Marlow, however potential flooding is no longer a problem in their new home that floats on rising floodwater just like a ship in its dock.
Given the brief to design a house that would not be at risk from flooding, the architects considered a number of different approaches to dealing with the unpredictable water levels on the site including raising the house on stilts.
They explained “If we’d have gone for an elevated house the ground floor would have been so high, almost two metres off the ground, the house would have looked out of keeping with its neighbours. The benefit of an ‘amphibious house’ is that it looks in all intents and purposes like a normal house, and rather than having a house that’s up in the air you get proper engagement with the garden.”
The garden design incorporates terraces that act as an “early warning system” for flooding and when the first two are full of water, that’s when the whole house will start to rise gently like a boat, keeping all of the habitable spaces safe and above the water level.
The design was developed according to the Archimedes principle:
“the house’s mass and volume are less than the equivalent of water, and that’s what creates buoyancy,” and four posts, nicknamed “dolphins” by the project’s engineer, act as vertical guideposts to allow it to slide up and down when it needs to move.
Now complete the architecturally striking floating structure is home to a basement level offering extra living space and a cinema room, the raised ground floor with an open-plan living and dining room and two bedrooms, and a mezzanine floor with master bedroom, en-suite bathroom and steam room.
Whilst the external and structural design and build of the project was so significant, just like any new homeowners, the interior design was just as important for The Bruce Family to make this unique property a family home to enjoy, flood free, for years to come after the build was complete.
Top of the list was a quality real wood floor throughout, a choice they could make confidently knowing the floor would not be at risk of water damage from flooding. Baca architects recommended V4 and suggested Nicky looked at the Urban Nature range.
“I wasn’t sure where to start in selecting our wood floors so a recommendation from our experienced architects was good enough for me. They pointed me specifically to the Urban Nature Oak Rustic Limehouse White board due to its lighter finish which contains a lovely natural wood grain. I had to agree it looked perfect.”
Nicky went on to say, “I ordered some samples from the V4 website to be sure, and was very happy with the choice, giving the builders the go ahead to order and install throughout.”
As the property was constructed to achieve a low carbon standard with low energy under floor heating throughout, the Urban Nature range is also a perfect choice as it is ideal for this style of heating and the 15mm boards offer an ultra-stable multi-ply base for use over it.
The Urban Nature Collection is also 100% FSC® Certified for total assurance it is a sustainable product choice, manufactured in FSC certified factories where the wood is responsibly and ethically sourced from well managed forests.
“We are really pleased with the floor, and once the building works were completely finished we had it professionally cleaned and oiled again to look as good as new. I like that you can see the full extent of the grain and the colour variations, and the lighter tone of this wood compliments the natural light that oozes into the property from the large glass frontage looking onto the river.”
The house was first featured on the Grand Designs Show in 2014 but has since been revisited by Kevin McCloud and the team to see the house finally completed.
“The floor has been really easy to live with and maintain and the colour and texture gave us a great base to add our choice of contemporary furnishings. It’s been a long journey, but isn’t it always on Grand Designs! Eventually though our dream home, seven years in the making, is now complete and we couldn’t be happier.”
The house is set to be revisited on Channel 4 Wednesday 28th October 2015.
Find out more about the show at the Grand Designs page on the Channel 4 website.