Amphibious Housing: An ambitious housing design for flood prone areas

Amphibious Housing: An ambitious housing design for flood prone areas

Posted 22 July 2011, by Neha Gargi, EcoFriend (Instamedia Network),

Floods cause great damage to people and their properties, forcing the residents to relocate to safer places, far from the coastline. One such area is Thamesmead, a town in England, which by being near to the North Sea is always at a risk of devastating floods. Constant threat of floods makes it almost impossible to construct sustainable residential areas. Owing to this, Rebecca Lee (see below) has proposed an ambitious housing concept – Amphibious Housing, for the people of Thamesmead.

Each of the property in the amphibious housing is designed in such a way that they can float up to a height of 4 meters. To hold these housings in position anchored masts have been used. During levels of high water in the city, a controlled system would allow the water to flow into the harbor area of the central pathway of the housing site. That’s not all, the housing would harness the tidal energy and allow the water to rise safely with a warning system to warn the residents of the rising water level. The warning system would help the residents to relocate their vehicles to a remote parking area.

Once the water level subsides, it can flow out of the site naturally by the network of canals and swales. The energy harnessed during the rising water level can also be used as additional energy supply to the housing or to remove the salt from water, so that it can be added to the main water supply. This can be extremely useful during flooding, when water and energy supply might get cut off.

The roadways to each street are constructed in such a manner that during times of controlled flood, the water would flow through them creating the required buoyancy so that the houses can float. And once the flood subsides, the water would safely be drained. When there are no floods, these roadways can also act as private courtyards or places for children to play and the residents to interact.

Rebecca Lee’s Amphibious Housing is surely a great solution for those who live in areas prone to frequent floods. This housing concept would help the residents to continue with their life without being interrupted by the seasonal floods.

Rebecca Lee’s Amphibious Housing

Posted July 2009, by Rebecca Lee, Cargo Collective,

Design for a residential development which responds to the ever increasing risk of flood in the town of Thamesmead, whilst creating a sustainable development that goes some way to reconnecting the fragmented areas of the town and giving the area a sense of identity.

This is proposed as a possible way to avoid the construction of future defences such as the Thames barrier by reinstating the natural floodplain in a way that can mitigate the flood risk to a wide area.

The design allows each property to float up to a height of four metres whilst being held in position by anchored masts. In times of high water level in the Thames, water is allowed to flow into the site through a controlled system in the harbour area of the central pathway. The pressure and kinetic energy of the tidal flow is harnessed at this point by tidal turbines and the water is allowed to rise steadily and safely with a prior warning system. As the residential parking is in a ‘sacrificial’ area, this would allow residents to move their cars to a planned, remote parking location. When the excess water subsides it is allowed to flow out of the site naturally by means of a network of swales and canals. All service pipes are contained within the central pathway and the energy harnessed by the tidal flow can be used to supplement the local energy supply or even to desalinate and purify the water by reverse osmosis to provide a back-up to the mains water supply (important in an extreme flood event, as the mains water and energy supply may be disconnected. This would provide a level of self sufficiency for the amphibious houses allowing the residents to continue with their lives uninterrupted.

The roadways to each street are cul-de-sacs with little road definition – subtly causing motorists to drive with care as there is no obvious pedestrian separation on this level.

In times of controlled flood, these roadways will flood with water, allowing it to go under the houses in order to create the buoyancy needed for them to float. They are designed to facilitate fast, safe drainage once the flood has subsided.

At all other times these roads provide a lower level streetscape for community interaction. Their separation from the main ‘path’ level creates a semi private space like an urban courtyard, where children can play and be watched by their parents from the houses. Each house also has it’s own exterior stairs which provide a place to sit and meet as well as a means of access.

The street also allows access for refuse collection and emergency vehicles.


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