Baca’s floating village a Crown in the Royal Docks

Baca Architects have come runner up in an ambitious plan to build a floating village in London’s Royal Docks, as part of the Mayor of London’s Vision. The team, led by Hadley Mace, developed plans for a floating village conceived as a ‘Crown’ in the Royal Docks. It would form; the head of a future necklace of floating settlements that could extend throughout the Docks along a watery ‘Champs Elysee’ boulevard.

©Baca Floating Village [1]-London Icon

A fundamental approach to Baca’s plan was that the development should not be an extension of the dock edge. Rather that it should be set away from the dock edge and surrounded by a ‘blue belt’, to provide space to breathe and express the unique ‘aquatecture’. The village design has the bold ambition of the original dock builders and would be innovative, inspirational, iconic: a legacy that future generations could be proud of.

Designed and built in Britain the HM team’s approach was to make a uniquely British floating village, both bold and playful. Their floating village design contains all of the components one would expect of a quintessential British village but on water; small local stores, a village hall/gallery, and even a floating village pub set on the edge of the village blue.

©Baca Floating Village [3]-village blue

‘The village is set in a giant blue park, where water is the public realm. We envisage all sorts of events to cater for everyone; like dragon boat and rowing races, carnivals, boat shows, gondolas, floating weddings and there is space for people to just sit and look out.’

‘Though, sadly, the public were not invited to comment on the shortlisted proposals, hopefully there will be a chance to input into this important new London landmark in due course.’ Baca still plan to build a British floating village somewhere else in the UK.

Director in charge, Robert Barker, stated that ‘he wished the winning scheme every success and hoped that this pilot floating village would be the catalyst for more floating development throughout the UK.’

©Baca Floating Village [2] crown

©Baca Floating Village [4]-approach

©Baca Floating Village [5]-night

Baca Floating Village-6

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Baca Shortlisted for RIBA President’s Medal

120-RIBAImage The Practice is pleased to announce that it’s progressive research, the Climate Adaptive Neighbourhood (CAN) Project, has been shortlisted for the 2014 RIBA President’s Medal for Outstanding Practice-located Research.  Funded by the Technology Strategy Board, the CAN Project advanced the design of an innovative masterplan for flood-proof housing on a prominent regeneration site in Norwich, East Anglia.  A holistic design simultaneously addresses a range of climate issues for East Anglia.  Future climate risks were tested using a variety of methods of advanced simulation modeling.

Differing degrees of climate change were examined to adapt the design to current risk; but more importantly to enable a cascade of mitigation measures (selected from a hierarchical series of options) to be easily retrofitted in the future, dependent upon the severity of the climate as and when it changes.

Baca’s LifE (Long-term Initiatives for Flood-risk Environments) project won the President’s Medal for Research in 2009.  The 2014 winners will be announced in October, with the awards presented at the RIBA President’s Medals ceremony in December.

For more information on the RIBA website please click here

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Filming and Float-testing the Amphibious House


The UK’s first amphibious house passes the float test with flying colours.  Water from the neighbouring Thames was pumped into the dock in order to float and balance the concrete hull of this groundbreaking building.

The float test was recorded on camera for a forthcoming Grand Designs TV show of the pioneering design, located in Marlow.  Members of Baca and the engineering team from Technicker watched as the dock in which the house will rest was filled with water to simulate flood conditions, and the concrete hull the building will rest on tweaked, to perfect its balance and test the waterproofing.

The amphibious house is scheduled to be completed this autumn.

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Integrated flood defences in Shoreham


As part of Shoreham’s multi-million pound investment into their waterfront, JBA and Baca Architects are providing guidance for new integrated flood defences and public realm.  Engineers JBA consulting in collaboration with Baca Architects, won a national tender to provide clear guidance on the coastal defences to protect the new town development from flooding and the challenges of climate change.

Applying principles laid out in Baca’s award-winning research, the LifE project (Long-term Initiatives for Flood-risk Environments), a key remit of the design was to integrate the flood defences with the public realm providing a new, lively waterfront promenade.  Public seating, paths, planting and an amphitheatre could be integrated into the defences to provide both defence from flooding but also amenity.  Projected increases in the severity and frequency of flooding due to climate change have been factored into the level of resilience, providing protection for future development along the waterfront.

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New Baca Book – Aquatecture

Aquatecture Book Cover Aquatecture, a new book authored by Baca Directors, Robert Barker and Richard Coutts, is now being advertised on the RIBA bookshop website. Due to be published by RIBA Publishing, the specialist book incorporates the Practice’s considerable knowledge and research experience in designing with water, from building to masterplanning levels.

With water playing such a vital role in our lives and societies, the book lays out the case for the importance of designing for water, now and in the future, in order to best prepare us to adapt to the uncertainties of future climate change. Historical cases of issues with water and innovations in designing with water are examined, along with measures to mitigate the threat posed by water in the form of shortages, such as droughts, and excess, in the form of flooding.

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Planned to perfection again


Planning approval has just been granted for Baca’s design for a substantial luxury eco house in the north of England. The home, commissioned by a well-known sporting personality, marks another achievement for the Practice’s 100% record on planning.
Work on the site, located in Durham, should begin within the very near future. The substantial 7,000sqft property will incorporate the latest in energy-saving technologies, such as solar slates, combined with all the modern conveniences expected of a high-end home in the modern-day.

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Nearly complete but already winning awards


Forest Mews was a finalist in the Grand Designs Best New Houses Awards 2014 and was featured as one of the seven best houses in the country by the Sunday Times. It has also just scooped the Fenestration Awards – Cool Wall, this month.

Jessica Barker, the wife of director Robert Barker and co-designer of Forest Mews, presented the award-winning development at Grand Designs Live to a packed crowd. George Clarke, who interviewed Jessica, said he thought it was absolutely beautiful and will go on to win many awards. This would be a great recognition of the care and attention put into this wonderful project and showcase for how good architecture can really add value to development.  Baca is already working on plans for a similar mews development in Fulham.

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