The RIBA, in conjunction with Norwich Union, is to launch an international design competition which will challenge architects to come up with innovative and interesting ideas for building housing in flood risk areas.

The floods of summer 2007 demonstrated to the whole of the UK how devastating flooding can be. Thousands were affected by the extreme weather experienced in June and July 2007, with many having to leave their homes and businesses for months afterwards whilst their properties were dried out and repaired. As climate change takes hold, scientists and meteorologists are agreed that we are more likely to see milder, wetter weather, and flooding will become a more regular occurrence.

Running alongside this, the Government has set out plans to build three million new homes by 2020. Land in the UK is already limited, so there is a potential threat that some of these properties will be built on flood plains. The competition will ask entrants to respond to these two factors by exploring new ideas that challenge current building techniques, perhaps taking inspiration from overseas, and come up with designs that could be developed into producing houses that are flood proof, workable and insurable.

Igal Mayer, Chief Executive of Norwich Union said "The insurance industry is expecting to pay out around £3 billion pounds in repairs and reinstatement as a result of last summer's events, and Norwich Union alone dealt with over 50,000 household and business claims as a result of the extreme weather. We are proud to be working with the RIBA in running this competition, and hope that it will provide some creative, innovative design solutions to the problem of where and how we build flood resilient new homes".

The winning designs will be announced in November 2008, with an honorarium of £15,000 to be distributed amongst the five shortlisted entries.