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The UK floods of December 2013 – January 2014 highlighted the country’s inherent vulnerability to flooding and its limited capacity for adaptation to this threat. With an increasing number of properties at risk of flooding, we urgently need to assess the resilience of buildings and consider the consequences and benefits of adaptation. Although efforts are underway to reduce the exposure of at-risk communities, there’s a disjoint between large scale adaptation / alleviation strategies and property-level adaptation. Without a detailed understanding of individual properties, flood risk thresholds and tipping points, decision-makers at both national and local levels remain unaware of the potential adaptation capacity of communities. The Retrofitting Resilience study and framework address this knowledge gap and can be used to evaluate both the current and future flood resilience of a community.

- The framework has been applied and tested on the village of Yalding in Kent. This village is one such location that endures repetitive and escalating impacts from flooding and as a result will be used as the pilot study area for this research. This study will explore how Yalding can be retrofitted and spatially adapted to be flood resilient to both current and future climate conditions whilst also achieving high quality place-making.

- Data on the spatial conditions and consequences of 2013/14 flood was recorded using surveys, interviews, community engagement workshops, and visualised using 3D digital models, and GIS mapping.

- Information on the property setup such as; house type, construction material, flood hazard, resistance and resilience measures and the resulting consequences was combined with millimetre accurate threshold data to create a sophisticated model to assess the past, present and future flood resilience of Yalding under current and adapted spatial configurations. 


The Martin Centre



This research has been a multi-disciplinary endeavour, conducted at the University of Cambridge in collaboration with the residents of Yalding, the Environment Agency, architects, engineers, and with the support of the Cabinet Office.

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Founder & Director
The Environmental Design Studio (TEDS)

Ed Barsley is a specialist in environmental design in architecture, with a particular interest in developing strategies to improve the resilience of communities and the built environment. Ed speaks regularly at flood conferences and events worldwide, and in 2018 ran the RIBA’s nationwide core CPD lecture series on flooding, with the seminar ‘Designing for Flood Resilience’. In October 2016 Ed won the Sunday Times British Homes Award ‘Resilient Home’ design competition (in collaboration with JTP) with the scheme entitled ‘A Home For All Seasons’. To share the findings from his research on community flood resilience within the 'Retrofitting Resilience' study, Ed has written a book for the RIB entitled; ‘Retrofitting for Flood Resilience: A Guide to Building and Community Design’.


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A Guide to Building and Community Design

This book is being developed as a guide to communicate both the challenges and threats of flood risk alongside the benefits  of  resilience and adaptation. It combines the latest research findings in flood risk management with practical spatial strategies for adaptation. It is intended for use by architects, homeowners and a wide range of practitioners in the built environment. Strategies are discussed through the use of case studies relating to issues at both the individual property level as well as at a larger scale to consider how communities as a whole can be made resilient to flooding.


Winner of the 2016 Sunday Times & British Homes Awards 'Resilient Home' Design Competition. The Home for All Seasons is a model for a new type of housing that is future-proof to flooding, overheating and extreme cold. Its design provides protection, comfort and independence to residents through an approach of resilience, resilience, rather than resistance. It works inline with the principles of good place-making and rather than seeing 'resilience' as a compromise uses it as a feature to enhance the way in which residents live in and enjoy their homes. As a result those living in the 'Home for All Seasons' have peace of mind in the knowledge that their home can be quickly and easily be adjusted to cope with the wide range of challenges the future holds. 



- Develop new tools and techniques for the assessment, data gathering, communication and visualisation of flood risk.

- To more rigorously understand the consequences of flood events (both tangible and intangible) and benefits of property level resilience (PLR).

- To consider the temporal aspects of resilience with regards to; Occupancy, Accessibility, the Functionality of - Services (such as Waste, Power and Water) and Placemaking.

- Explore the value of using a scenario testing within a mixed method research framework for assessing flood resilience in the built environment.


A 2 year research project exploring the design of a flood resilient coastal settlement in Par Docks, Cornwall. The study considers a fifth spatial strategy for coastal flood risk management, that of 'Embrace'. This approach combines a long term strategy for Management Realignment with a short to medium term strategy for phased inhabitation. The result is a town that remains open to the sea whilst safe from it. The research was Winner of the Flood & Coast 2016 Flood Innovation Competition, Shortlisted in the Landscape Institutes International Flood Ideas Competition. Featured in the Guardian Newspaper, Scroope Journal and Cambridge Research Horizons.


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