In Pictures: flood-proof design

In Pictures:

flood-proof design

The changing climate is creating an increase in severe weather events and so producing new challenges for the built environment. We look at key projects that have been designed to withstand floods, storms and other severe weather conditions.


2011, the annual NBS BIM Report recorded BIM adoption at just 13%, with 43% unaware of the technology’s potential. Today, based on a survey of more than 1,000 industry professionals, some 73% of firms are now using BIM, while just 1% are unsure of what it offers.

While BIM has helped to improve communication and collaboration between stakeholders, there is still room for improvement. According to a recent survey conducted by the Institute of Civil Engineers and ALLPLAN, organisations face a variety of issues when using BIM, including unexpected design changes (55%), exchanging information between parties (45%), and incompatible software (43%).

These problems are, in part, caused by the wide range of software available – according to Newforma’s The State of Technology: AEC Firms report, there are seven BIM applications frequently used across thearchitecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry, and many more niche tools. While an architectural firm involved in a project may work in Revit, the structural engineer may prefer to use Tekla, and the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) engineers may use Navisworks, which causes issues to arise when sharing files.


New York City, US

Architects: Bjarke Ingels Group

A proposed protective system for the southern New York City waterfront, the BIG U is the result of a collaboration between Bjarke Ingels Group and an international team of architects, landscape architects, engineers and urbanists. Covering 10 miles, it would shield local communities from flooding while providing a new community space along the waterfront. This is designed to serve as a series of centres for social activity, including parkland, space for exercise and leisure facilities.

Image courtesy of Lumion

Para 79 House

Blackwater Estuary, UK

Architects: Baca Architects

Currently under construction, Para 79 House has been dubbed ‘the ark’ by planners, as it is raised above the ground to sit above even very severe flood events. The ground floor, which includes a two-car garage and access to the home above, includes a flood gate and floor bund for additional protection, while a garden wall serves as an additional defence. “We expect that in the future new build and replacement buildings within the estuary, which may be affected by flood issues, will adopt some or all of these strategic measures,” said the architects.

Image courtesy of Baca Architects

Kiht’han House

New York City, US

Architects: Bates Masi Architects

Located in the Long Island area of New York, this home is built in an area at risk of flooding and so has been raised to allow floodwaters to pass below the main structure and so prevent damage to the interiors. The space is shaded by screens that extend the full height of the structure, making the visual impact minimal at most. The result, according to Bates Masi” is a design that “celebrates the periodically rising water levels” rather than “masking the issue at best”.

Image courtesy of Bates Masi Architects

Underground Parking Garage

Katwijk, The Netherlands

Architects: Royal HaskoningDHV

Designed to resemble grass-topped dunes, this underground parking garage in the South Holland region of the Netherlands provides extensive parking facilities while also forming a key part of the Kustwerk Katwijk flood protection project. "The underground parking is carefully embedded into its natural dune environment so as to respect its surrounding landscape," said architect Richard van den Brule.

Image courtesy of Royal HaskoningDHV

The Cove

San Francisco, US

Architects: Heatherwick Studio

A waterfront experience, the Cove is designed to tackle future flooding and earthquakes by placing the structure in the water itself. Replacing existing decaying piers, the cove will house a workplace campus flanking an ecological public park that incorporates wetlands and dunes. The result is, according to the architects, “a colourful, contemporary model destination that celebrates the classic California coast and the history of the Embarcadero, while serving as a warm, inviting urban (re)treat, a high-value oasis, just steps away from the generic gloss of FiDi and Mission Bay.”

Image courtesy of Heatherwick Studio