Flood Houses: RIBA competition
(Image credit: Press)

Although the economy may be the key threat to housing, natural disasters still lurk at the back of our minds. In response to the catastrophic floods across Britain in 2007, Norwich Union, along with the support of the RIBA, set off to discover how to keep us safe and sound.

The Flood Houses for the Future competition was launched last July, attracting over 80 entries from around the world, all attempting to create the perfect flood-proof house.

The Flood Houses of the Future competition

(Image credit: Press)

See more of the winning entries from The Flood Houses of the Future competition

The competition’s brief was for a single house with a garden, intended as part of a larger housing development, only built on a flood plain. The four joint winners, London-based Nissen Adams, Pohkit Goh from Edinburgh, Newcastle firm Hopper Howe Sadler, and Malaysian practice Eleena Jamil architects, were announced last week, and each received a £3,500 money prize. London’s Moxon Architects were also highly commended.

What happens next? Frail finances won't necessarily help these designs go forward. Ewan Willars, RIBA's Head of Policy, stated diplomatically that 'the RIBA and Norwich Union are considering taking the submissions received to Government and using them as a basis for why building regulations should perhaps be amended to take flood risk into account.' Developers might also benefit. 'We hope [the designs] will stimulate new ideas and solutions on how to deal with homes and flood risk,' he added.

Ranging from adaptable designs which are intended to respond to a potential flood, raised buildings with a zone-defence plan, to special drainage systems which mimic the natural water movements, the winning designs were diverse, approaching the issue from a variety of different angles. The ultimate aim is to prove that great design not only makes our lives easier, but also considerably safer.

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).