architecture climate change

Building of the week: the hurricane-proof home

It’s hurricane season at the moment, and US householders on the Atlantic coast will have an eye on the forecast. Some households will be less nervous than their neighbours, if they’re in a hurricane-proof house:

hurricane proof home 2

That might look rather precarious, but as well as keeping the home above rising waters, those pillars are designed to allow the wind to flow around and underneath the house rather than batter against it. The building is round, which funnels the wind away, and the roof is at an optimum pitch. It’s all about deflecting the wind, avoiding the corners and flat surfaces that can tear down a normal building if the wind catches them full force.

Inside, the frames for the roof and the floor are built like spokes on a wheel, so pressure from any one side is distributed. Everything is engineered with hurricanes in mind, such as reinforced windows, or metal strapping that anchors the roof to the foundations as well as the walls.

This particular house is built by Deltec Homes, who also build to high environmental standards. Passive design principles are used to maximize natural light, heat, and ventilation within a building envelope. They use a third of the energy of a typical home of the same size, and the addition of solar panels makes it a net-zero energy building.

We need more homes like these. Hopefully there won’t be anything as serious as Sandy or Katrina this year, but as hurricanes claim more homes this summer, it would be wise to rebuild more resilient. In an age of climate change, extreme weather events are expected to increase in both frequency and power. Coastal developments around the world should be applying these sorts of design principles as standard, adapting our architecture to suit a more hostile climate.

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