Affordable bamboo housing floats when it floods

© H&P Architects

Creating dwellings that can stand up to the extreme forces of nature presents a challenging design problem, no matter the locale. Hoping to address the issue of extensive loss of homes and displacement due to severe flooding in Southeast Asia, Vietnamese design firm H&P Architects created this low-cost, disaster-resistant housing prototype that actually floats atop a base made of reused oil drums.

© H&P Architects
© H&P Architects

Made with locally-abundant bamboo, natural thatching and inspired by traditional building techniques, the design is secured together using a system of anchors and ties. The unit is structurally anchored with welded steel piles that still allows for the structure's up and down movement during floods, a crucial element to its disaster resistance. There's also a rainwater harvesting system, and a one-way valve that starts up backup support systems when floods do arrive.

© H&P Architects
© H&P Architects

There are suspended bamboo section on the unit's facades that act as vertical gardens -- a nice feature, considering that these may be able to survive much better in a deluge than ground-based plantings.

© H&P Architects

The bamboo roof is made up of operable louvers, which open the inside to natural cross-ventilation in this humid climate. But when disaster strikes, the whole house can be closed off to protect its inhabitants.

© H&P Architects

Its modular design means that the basic configuration fits families of six or can be expanded with an addition to fit eight people. The units are intended to cost under USD $2,000 and will be simple enough to build so that villagers can assemble their own homes on-site. It's an intriguing and sensitive design that sources its effectiveness from local materials, techniques and labour, and will no doubt help families adapt better in emergency situations. More over at H&P Architects.

Tags: Architecture | Natural Disasters | Vietnam