Vietnam's flood-proof bamboo houses
H&P Architects have designed affordable, floating dwellings for Vietnam's flood-stricken regions
Many in South East Asia fall victim to flooding, often losing not only their worldly possessions but also their homes when the waters rise. Now the Vietnamese firm H&P Architects believes it might have solved this problem, by designing a new type of terrestrial dwelling that floats above the flood.
These prototype homes are in part constructed from bamboo, which couldn't be more plentiful locally, and are topped off with a traditional leaf thatch. The corners of the roofs lift up like triangular shutters, to help get the air flowing inside - a boon when it's humid. Yet in heavy downpours these corners can be closed and the owners can literally batten down the hatches.
Meanwhile, oil drums are set into the base of each building, providing buoyancy. Each house is anchored to the ground with four steel rods, with the oil drums serving as the base that the house sits on. When the rains come, the house rises on its rods, stopping it washing away.
There's a pleasant look and feel to these buildings too. The Hanoi architects have included a vertical garden on one façade. Plants, flowers and some vegetables can nestle in bamboo plant holders, out of reach of the water.
What's more, these modular dwellings should cost less than $2000 each to produce, with owners assembling the buildings themselves on site. Disaster relief is a rich and worthy vein for architects and designers to tap, but getting from prototype to reality can be a tortuous process. Let's hope a few of these houses can be made before the waters rise again.
For more on ecologically sound design solutions, take a look at our book Vitamin Green. For further reading on how we're creating today's built environment, consider our Atlas of 21st Century World Architecture, which features the best new architecture from around the globe.