Floating Homes for Flood Zones

Floating Homes for Flood Zones


photo courtesy of Miwok

A floating home, or an amphibious house, may not be on everyone’s architectural radar yet, but there is solid logic behind the design. As climate change continues to wreak havoc across the globe, floating homes may become an asset in flood-prone areas. After the 2013 flood, even the city of Boulder should consider the benefits of floating homes.

Baca Architects is a British architectural firm currently invested in new floating house designs. Last year, Baca began construction on “Formosa, The Amphibious House” in Marlow—a town on the River Thames that is prone to flooding. The three-story house is made from lightweight lumber, which is specially treated to prevent rotting. The entire house sits on a floating concrete frame. If the river floods, the design allows the house to be lifted up by the water and held afloat with two posts keeping it in place at each side.

Rather than relying on the more traditional design of a stilt house, Baca’s design is an innovative tool in dealing with floods. Baca’s Formosa also relies on flexible pipes that expand, which would allow the house to stay operational during a flood. This architectural approach is about adapting to floods through minor alterations, which are triggered by rising water levels. Rather than forcing residents to flee from floods or move away entirely from flood zones, floating houses allow people to remain in their homes during a flood.

Both climate change and population growth are realities that should force architects and city planners to come up with ideas on how to deal with flooding. Designing with floodwaters in mind is often referred to as aquatecture. The aim of aquatecture is to create bold structures that offer reliable solutions in flood zones. From the UK to New York, many towns and cities are in need of innovative and practical designs to protect residents from extreme weather that causes floods. The citizens of the Netherlands adapted to living below sea level years ago so it seems plausible for other places to adapt to rising sea levels and seasonal flooding.


Image courtesy of JGColorado

The flood that hit Boulder in September of 2013 took several lives and destroyed many homes. The record 18-inches of rainfall that week devastated the city. Boulder was justifiably unprepared for such a surprising and catastrophic storm. Now, it’s in the city’s best interests to consider how to prepare for future floods. Architects and developers can examine the benefits of building new floating homes, especially near Boulder Creek. Protecting the city’s infrastructure against floods and mudslides may seem like a daunting task but ignoring the likelihood of future storms sounds even more unsettling. Design ideas that anticipate and aim to adapt to flooding can only help Boulder’s future growth.

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