Delta dwelling is the latest prototype designed by Stephen Talliss to meet the highest efficiency.
These houses are designed for construction on sites at the water’s edge or in areas of pronounced flood risk. In simple terms each house comprises two 9m x 6m x 3m boxes inserted within a structural frame that projects over the water. The intention is to touch the earth as lightly as possible and minimise the amount of useful land consumed by development. On the understanding that properly founded properties are usually more attractive to building societies than floating boxes, foundations are piled down to firm strata and the primary frame is stabilised with post tensioned ties anchored into the earth. The piles or posts though will provide a minimal obstruction to the passage of floodwater.
Three thoughts stimulated the design process of delta dwelling. First was the recent discovery of 3000 year old bronze age houses excavated in a waterlogged fenland site near Peterborough – this helped us to remember the long historical precedent for living above the water. The second was admiration for the casselet fishermen’s huts on the River Rance in northern Brittany. Both make use of timber structural frames. The demise or decay of both also reminded us of the vulnerabilities of timber. The third, unrelated consideration, was the plight of the British steel industry. We decided to respond to the term resilience in its wider sense. There is no point fantasising about a eco-world of Passivhauses where the historical ecomomy just fades away and we all grow turnips instead. The traditional pillars of the economy that underpin our way of life, need support in order to survive and resile. So here we are proposing the use of steel, as a gesture of solidarity with the men and women whose livelihoods depend on the survival of that industry.
Living with the water
Proximity to water has associated hazards, but driving or sailing a boat is not more onerous or difficult than driving a car, it is simply about learning a different set of skills and developing an understanding and respect for the water. These houses would be appealing for those interested in adapting to such a water based lifestyle. Many like the idea of living on a barge or houseboat. This scheme offers the attractions of being near the water, but without the headaches of tenure and maintenance. Living in such locations is about learning to live in harmony with the water.
Delta dwelling layout
Clearly topography and other constraints of a real life housing site will modify the orthogonal layout shown on the submitted site plan. The main objective is to show how houses are accessed from an elevated causeway capable of accepting very light traffic, linking to parking and other facilities on higher ground.
The typical plot size would be 70 sq.m. – approximately half that of a conventional developer built house, so there is potential to at least double the densities associated with new build housing developments.
The repetitive modular delta dwelling design works in detached house format, as well as in pairs, but most efficiently in terraces, as illustrated on the submission CGI. There are a variety of formats available within this overall set up and internal layouts can be varied within the basic envelope, to suit the occupants. The upper floor for example would be optional, creating an additional bedroom with associated bathroom. This element would lend itself particularly to prefabrication.
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