IF you look out across the Southend shoreline near the pier from Saturday, you should see an intriguing sculpture. It looks like some sort of futuristic home, it serves as some sort of floating laboratory and presents itself as a work of art.

It's called Flood House, and inside it lies various bits of monitoring equipment, collecting data about the weather conditions and so forth of the Thames Estuary, and how architecture - concrete and other materials - respond to flooding. It measures about five by eight metres, is fabricated in ply and weatherboard, floats on three steel pontoons and its design echoes a mixture of sights seen around the Estuary including fishing sheds, WWII pillboxes, bunkers and Maunsell naval sea forts.

Flood House is the brain child of Matthew Butcher, a designer and academic who works within architecture, but also art and performance art, and who is also a tutor at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL.

He has worked in collaboration with various other artists, organisations and curators, including the Focal Point Gallery in Southend and Jes Fernie, an independent curator and writer based in Colchester. The gallery has joined forces with the project under its umbrella of Radical Essex, a series of events and exhibitions it is leading, which aim to re-examine the history of Essex in relation to radicalism in thought, lifestyle, politics and architecture.

A launch event of Flood House will be hosted by Focal Point, and will include a talk at the gallery this Saturday, April 30, at 4.30pm, followed by a walk to Southend Pier to see Flood House, with a drinks reception at the Pier Head.

Joe Hill, director of Focal Point, explained: "Flood House connects so well to the Radical Essex project. We were able to work with Matthew, so it could be brought to Southend as a public event.

"We were also able to facilitate a commission by artist Ruth Ewan, who has devised a weathervane called All Distinctions Levelled. The design of the weathervane - which is really great - incorporates the word 'Level' and it has been attached to Flood House. The title is in reference to a sermon by the 14th century, radical Essex-based priest John Ball, which Ruth became fascinated with. At the launch event there is going to be a choir coming from Brixton at the end of the pier called The Electric Belles, who have developed the sermon and will be singing it.

He added: "Flood House does look quite creepy, as it's imagined as some sort of futuristic house we might live in if the landscape gets flooded. It's been so far tugged from mudflat to mudflat, having been docked in Dauntless Boat Yard, Benfleet, and is currently in Wakering Boat Yard. It will be visible to the public from the Southend shoreline by the pier on Saturday, until Friday, May 13, although the public won't be able to climb onto it.

"There have been various commissions involved in the project and another one of these is by Joanna Quinn, a writer who has produced a short story about a notional inhabitant of Flood House, which we are hoping to get published and be able to give out on the pier."

Other collaborators on the project include Dr Rokia Raslan and Dr Jonathon Taylor at the UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering (IEDE), and photographer Frank Watson. It also incorporates a fascinating extract by author Ken Warpole, taken from the book 350 Miles: An Essex Journey, by Worpole and photographer Jason Orton. It and other information can be seen at www.flood.house.

Worpole has also been writing a blog - thenewenglishlandscape.wordpress.com - as part of an ongoing exploratory project with Orton, documenting the changing landscape and coastline of Essex and East Anglia, particularly "its estuaries, islands and urban edgelands". The blog also covers the Peculiar People exhibition, currently on at the Focal Point Gallery, which is part of the Radical Essex project. Ken Worpole will be giving a talk there at 7pm on Thursday, 12 May, as part of the exhibition programme.

The majority of the Flood House project was funded through an award from the UCL Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment Materialisation Grant Programme.

* The Flood House launch event starts at the Focal Point Gallery, Elmer Avenue, Southend, at 4.30pm until 7:30pm. No booking required. All are welcome.

The launch event is said to be "dependent on weather conditions".