Book Review

Retrofitting for Flood Resilience

A Guide to Building and Community Design
Edward Barsley

This very well illustrated book is exactly what urban designers and architects need to get to grips with the many different causes of flooding, the likely impacts, and how to retrofit places to deal positively with those risks. As the founder of The Environmental Design Studio (TEDS), Edward Barsley has brought together a range of perspectives and case studies to represent the issues and those most affected by them, and to show how best to adapt places to flooding.

Divided into six sections, the guide explains flood risk contexts and consequences; types of floods; tools to understand flood risk; managing risk; strategies for buildings; and, planning for the future. Seen through the eyes of nine different people, each representing a different profession or members of the community, the book’s aim is not only to show how to reduce the impacts of flooding, but how to ‘move from a state of surviving to thriving’, given the watery places that we inhabit today.

The detailed illustrations and vignettes show the impacts on the built environment and a community, during and immediately after a flood, using a fictitious place, but with photos from real situations. They include a timeline from the first alerts being received to flooding, recovery and back to eventually inhabiting buildings again. Yet we know that with climate change, each cycle of flooding is likely to be worse and will require longer recovery times. The examination of different types of floods is useful, as it deals with the much-discussed risk of sea level rises, storm surges, tidal, tsunami and river flooding, as well as surface water (pluvial), ground water and sewer flooding, which affect inland communities in ways that are not often acknowledged as significant risks and threats to healthy and happy lives. For each of these conditions recommended adaptation strategies are suggested. Moving on, the tools to understand the nature of flood risk include a valuable summary of the flood impacts on buildings, from buoyancy to capillary rise and erosion, which can each fundamentally undermine buildings’ integrity, especially given the toxic mix of material loosely described as ‘flood water’.

The chapter on flood risk management begins the positive story about how to design and actively plan our way to less flooding, from sub-regional landscape and settlement management through to the building scale, so that adaptation strategies can be devised and adopted in different contexts; the case studies are a valuable demonstration of what is being carried out elsewhere in Europe and the US. Looking at the building scale, there is a fascinating examination of the many ways in which flood water can enter buildings, and hence how to build in flood resilience; solutions include repositioning habitable rooms, elevating buildings, allowing water entry, excluding water, and more. Overall this book provides a great array of detailed advice and technical solutions for different communities and contexts, presented in a very engaging format

URBAN DESIGN 156 Autumn 2020 Publication Urban Design Group

As featured in URBAN DESIGN 156 Autumn 2020

Want to read more like this? If you're not already an Urban Design Group member, why don't you consider joining?

Retrofitting for Flood Resilience Publication Urban Design Group
978 1859467343
Reviewed By
Louise Thomas