Baca Architects Models Floating Sanctuary on Water Lilies

Baca Architects has released visuals of a floating island, the design of which was inspired by the water lilies that abound in the surrounding lake. The island will comprise units of holiday apartments and forms part of Baca’s master plan for Ashwicken Lake, a proposed new eco-resort in Norfolk, UK, which has recently been submitted for planning.


"The purpose behind our design is to evoke serenity amongst guests and synthesise human wellbeing,” says Richard Coutts, Principal of Baca Architects. “Lilies are a symbol of purity, wellness and peace. They float on the surface of the lake and extend their large leaves to attract the sunlight.”

The ‘water lily’ is a two-storey structure but, since the embankment is approximately 2.5m higher than the structure’s primary floor, only one storey will be visible above the rim of the lake. All 40 apartments will enjoy a clear view out onto the lake, and the clustered nature of the design will work to create a spacious courtyard for social gatherings in the centre of the island. The form of the water lily is designed to provide a sheltered enclave, achieving a generous sunbathing terrace at lake level with moorings for sailing boats. Access will be by the lake’s electric water taxis or via two footbridges from newly-relandscaped areas where bunding and planting at the further extremity of the site will further screen the island and generate a sense of complete sanctuary.

“The water lily is both architecture and a living sculpture,” says Richard Coutts. “Imagine holidaying here – it will be so refreshing, pure escapism and unlike anything else that the UK has to offer. It’s been an absolute joy to work on this project and wonderful that the client has been involved at every stage of its evolution.”

A £35m investment by Norfolk Farm Leisure will see the 80-hectare site reimagined as a destination for staycations and day trips where outstanding architectural elements will be elegantly combined with an enhanced and tranquil natural landscape. The resort will feature the UK’s first floating clubhouse offering a spa with a pool, a cafe/restaurant and alfresco waterside dining, all of which will be open to both staying guests and local people. The club will be encircled by 132 contemporary lodges, located on or near the water’s edge and each with a mooring. These lodges will be arranged in clusters, interspersed with new planting, trees, follies and water taxi jetties to create different character across the resort. In addition, there will be 22 treehouses nestled in the woodlands. A range of water- and land-based activities will be available to suit all ages.

Ashwicken Lake will benefit from seamless environmentally-responsible design. The proposal is aiming for zero-carbon both in production and operation, and areas of nature conservation will deliver a biodiversity net gain. Both the clubhouse and water lily are targeting a BREEAM ‘Very Good’ rating.

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