Friday, August 10, 2012

Amphibious and Flood-proof Houses

Recently, a wild and crazy monsoon hit the Philippines that was followed by massive flooding in different parts of Metro Manila and nearby provinces. Buildings and houses near rivers or located at low points in the metro received the most devastation. People had to be evacuated or rescued due to severe flooding.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - Filipino resiliency, optimism, and unity in times of calamity never fail to amaze me. People would gather old clothes, pool money, buy clean water and food for donations and even offer manpower to help out with the relief and rescue operations. You'd see people smiling even after their homes have been flooded. You'd hear stories like, "12,000 prisoners from the Muntinlupa Jail gave up their meals for the day, so the food could be donated to flood victims". Even with the little they have, they were still willing to help out. I am proud of my countrymen for having such spirit and heart.

images from Facebook, compiled by Anton Mercado

However, I was a little surprised and a bit disappointed that after the typhoon Ondoy, which brought similar devastation, the country is still unprepared to avoid such flooding.

Different solutions, such as the ones stated in this article, have been proposed to avoid such devastation; however, due to numerous reasons that I shall not elaborate (just take a guess on what those reasons are), these haven't been fully pursued, or if they were ever pursued, they weren't successful.

I think everyone, including myself, has different ideas on how to solve this problem of devastation brought about by flooding. As an Architecture graduate, I would focus more on the Architecture-related solutions, and one of these is to make houses amphibious and/or flood-proof.

Arch 360-Philippines posted different execution of this idea. Check out their FB page to see what they found, but let me share to you some of my favorites...

Fantastic Flood-Proof House Designed to Break Free & Float
Install hydraulic struts to lift the house from resting level during flood events.
Design and image by Daniel Smith.
Amphibious home (that floats above floods) by Baca Architects

Architect Paulo Alcazaren also posted on his FB account probably the simplest solution of all...
"Here's a 3-minute sketch showing possible required amendments to the national
building code and zoning if people persist in building their houses in vulnerable areas.
Naval architects will be required to sign the construction drawings and documents."

Simple, right? Well, okay, it might not be THAT simple, mainly because of monetary constraints. Retrofitting existing houses or providing such houses to residents in vulnerable areas would cost a lot of money. But, as Architect Paulo Alcazaren said, "... we lose billions anyways every time it floods." So, think of this as an investment and insurance to keep our homes safe from flooding.


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  2. I do flood inspections. This is the smartest idea I've seen after doing over 10k inspections. I'd like to get this photo around the net to give people an idea on how to protect themselves for under 5k. Works for as high as the wall is. It's filled cinder block, painted with the paint they use to waterproof basements. The door has a rubber seal and tightening bolts to make it airtight. I have not seen this in any other place.