This paper presents, through text and the design project ‘The Silt House’, an alternative architecture for flood landscapes.
The investigation sets out the context for current forms of infrastructure and architecture planned in response to the increased threat of flooding in and around the Thames Estuary. In particular, it looks to certain experimental flood defence systems, suggesting, that instead of building bigger and bigger sea walls, we should look to use the landscape as a hybrid landscape infrastructure where salt marshes can act as a storage point for excess water and the flora can dispel energy from flood tides. Within this context, the text and design work seek to address the questions: what formal and spatial logics might be appropriate for architecture if sited in such a hybridised landscape like the tidal marsh; and, how might these logics mirror the particular conditions of this new model of infrastructure?
To help answer this question, the work looks to the architect and poet Raimund Abraham and, in particular, his 10 Houses projects developed between 1970 and 1973 for an alternative architectural model that uses natural processes to create enclosure and define architectural space. The design project seeks to explore how the direct use of such a historical reference can itself be seen as a means to not only develop an architecture that demonstrates a symbiotic relationship between nature and architecture, but also between the social and the political.