ZED Boat

Projects / Mixed use

ZED Boat

Project information


Client: Jamie Darke

Project Date: 2008-2010



Site Location: South Bank, London UK

Project Status: Construction Finished

Adapting to climate change - How will we live in places like the Thames Valley as sea levels rise?


Most people now agree that floods caused by a mixture of rising sea levels, high tides, strong winds and flash flooding from heavier rainfall in river valleys and estuaries is likely to blight large areas of valuable land all over the world.

ZEDfactory has developed two strategies designed to make development viable within land designated by the environment agency as floodplain.


The first is a self-funding flood defence wall, high enough to protect existing communities or new development plots from Spring tides, gale force winds blowing in the wrong direction and high rainfall upriver falling on saturated countryside or urban jungle.


This inhabited dyke approach integrates enough valuable income generating commercial and residential accommodation into the engineering structure to subsidise the initial construction, removing the major excuse for inaction by public bodies and landowners.


Think of this process as climate change adaptation funded by planning gain.


This protects local agricultural land, suburban areas and development sites, at the same time as providing an electric light tramway connecting the new homes to existing public transport nodes without encouraging car use. Enough solar electricity is harvested above the tracks over a year to power a tram every 10 minutes, even in the South East. Monocrystalline PV backed up by community scale turbines set in a linear allotment belt makes the new community comfortably zero carbon, and small biogas units providing methane for cooking and hot water to supplement the solar thermal hot water collectors.

The second idea is that any development outside the ZEDdyke has to float, anticipating highly variable water levels. By placing driven piles supporting helical wind turbines within the flood water channel, it is possible to create new street pontoons accessible from the top of the Dyke by gantries that rise and fall with both tide and floodwater. The landscape outside the Dyke can then become a wildlife habitat of predominantly marshland creating a haven of biodiversity, that will provide a beautiful overgrown riparian / estuary landscape perhaps studded with abandoned monuments from its C20 human use. ZEDfactory has designed and built two prototype low cost zero carbon floating river homes, the first zero carbon houseboats designed for reasonably affordable suburban living in the UK. We believe this new typology will become as representative of the C21 as the neo Tudor semi-detached represented the great expansion of many UK cities in the 1930's.


This is how many ordinary people will live as climate change accelerates. We believe the ZEB boats demonstrate an optimistic, viable urban and suburban future set in a beautiful landscape, and that the sooner communities plan to both reduce their carbon footprints and recognise the imminent threat of all the CO2 already emitted by our industrialised society - the more chance we have of avoiding melodramatic disasters.

Deck with PVs

We believe that the ZEB boats provide the best possible focus for a small community of artists in residence and modest gallery / exhibition spaces if they could be moored on the South Bank for a reasonable period of time this summer.


This exactly mirrors the work of Metal at Chalkwell Hall in Southend, and one of the boats could be towed down the Thames Estuary visiting communities along the tideway to propose constructive preparations preparing for inevitable climate change.


The ZEB boat could arrive at Southend in time for the opening of Chalkwell Hall in late summer, connecting the extremes of the Thames Gateway community with central London.


At each stop, a pontoon party could be held, introducing the concept of ' green bohemia' and demonstrating that it is possible to solve environmental problems at a local and personal level - without waiting for central government initiatives.


We are the 'microgeneration' the first generation with the tools and knowledge to do something positive about accelerating climate change.

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