On a Thames-side site which regularly floods, this modular timber home by Knox Bhavan architects has been designed for longevity by embracing the agency of the river.
The single floor house was constructed using a prefabricated OSB cassette system which not only minimized use of steel and concrete, but was also, impressively, made without any solid timber. The OSB cassettes provide structural strength, airtightness and insulation. It is a system which was developed through this project by structural engineers Price & Myers and BlokBuild, a digital manufacturing company, together with the design team.
Undertaking this collective step into the unknown relied on great trust between each of the design, manufacture and construction parties – a trust built on prior collaboration. This came to fruition with the vision of the client, who sought an environmentally conscious design which would integrate with its surroundings.
Nestled within a mature garden on a strip of the river historically populated with holiday cottages and which, until the eighties, was accessible only by boat, the relationship between March House and its environs is striking. The house sits on a steel tabletop frame,
raised high enough to account for the one-hundred-year predicted water level rises. This allows flood water to flow freely underneath the structure and minimizes water displacement.
By accommodating rather than resisting the ebbs and flows of the river, this symbiotic approach to design provides a sustainable, hopefully lifelong, residence for its occupant, in harmony with the landscape.