A STRANGE floating house which can rest on sand or float in the sea can be seen off the coast of south Essex.

The floating wooden building, which doubles up as a science lab, is being trialled in flood risk areas.

It is being promoted as a future housing solution for parts of Britain's coastline facing rising sea levels.

Currently moored at Dauntless Boatyard, off Canvey Road, the so-called Flood House will appear on Southend’s foreshore next Thursday.

Matthew Butcher, architecture lecturer at University College London, is the project's brainchild.

He said: “Architecture is usually considered to be a stable, fixed entity where internal temperature and conditions of comfort are heavily controlled.

“Flood House seeks to challenge these notions, suggesting instead a nomadic architecture that forms a responsive relationship to its surrounding environmental conditions.

“Only this way can we start to address climate change and the dramatic shifts in sea levels that this century will bring.

The 5.5metres by 7.5metres structure also hosts a laboratory, which will monitor environmental conditions.

Mr Butcher drew on different structures around the Thames Estuary for inspiration for his design, including traditional fishing sheds and boats, naval sea forts and bunkers.

Fabricated in ply and weatherboard, it floats on three steel pontoons and will be towed from site to site by a single tugboat.

It will soon move to Wakering Boatyard, in Bullmans Wharf, Great Wakering, before Mr Butcher sets his sights on Southend.

The structure will move from mudflat to mudflat throughout April and May to replicate Essex's future flooded landscape.

Mr Butcher added: “By presenting an architecture that is towed from one location to another and where occupation is effected by the rise and fall of the tides, the project seeks to question the way built structures relate to the environment.”

Mr Butcher will host a talk at the Focal Point Gallery, in Elmer Avenue, Southend, between 6pm and 8pm next Saturday.

Audience members will be invited to walk to Southend Pier to enjoy a drinks reception and view Flood House.

The project is part of Radical Essex, which aims to re-examine the history of the county in terms of lifestyle, politics and architecture.

For more information see www.flood.house