Architect Baca has masterminded the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ Life Project, launching today.
The Life Project, aimed at designers, developers and policy-makers, aims to identify a more integrated and long-term approach to coping with floods, as a result of rising sea levels and climate change.
It also demonstrates how flood-risk management can be integrated with sustainable, zero-carbon development and what this might cost.
The Life Handbook, the first manifestation of the project, has been put together, designed and illustrated by the Baca team, without the help of graphics specialists.
According to Baca partner Richard Coutts, the handbook illustrates how the traditional defence-based approach to flood water, with rising sea levels and climate change, is no longer viable in the long term, and that a different approach, setting in place mechanisms and contingencies for continuity of daily life, is more appropriate.
Coutts says Defra asked the architect to put together a proposal for its Making Space for Water Programme after seeing its conceptual town, which won a Royal Institute of British Architects competition.
The book sets out scenarios, examples and case studies, exploring three sites at Hackbridge, Peterborough and Littlehampton.
The book, which will be supplemented with digital resources including a website over the coming months, develops ‘flood catchment plans’ by looking at the relationship between areas and their relationship to each other and how the impact of flooding on one can affect the other.
Coutts explains that while most environmental projects look at zero carbon, there are very few that consider the development of land in relation to greater flood risks and rising sea levels.
Coutts hopes that the Life Handbook, developed with a steering committee including LDA Design, Fulcrum Consulting, BRE, Halcrow and Cyril Sweett, will be on a par with the Urban Design Compendium, launched almost a decade ago.
He stresses the importance of all disciplines within design working together.
‘You can’t look at design in isolation from architecture or engineering. We need to develop our interdisciplinary skills to build better communities. If you asked a hydrologist and an architect to consider the same brief, they would have very different perceptions. What we need to do is have more understanding between those two perceptions,’ says Coutts.