Off-grid ‘Tornado House’ protects inhabitants from Nature’s fury

Climate change is already having real and unprecedented impacts on our global environment.

Studies predict that increasing global temperatures will make massive natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina, last year’s Japanese tsunami, and the flock of tornadoes that torn apart the Midwest, a common occurrence. 

Despite this reality, human beings continue to build houses on coastlines, mountainsides, and other regions that put them in the direct path of these disasters. While politicians drag their feet, the insurance industry has sprung into action, acknowledging that climate change could put them out of business for good.

That doesn’t help the millions of us that will soon overflow into these areas, eventually out of necessity as well as ignorance. For Hong Kong-based architecture firm 10 Design, accepting the fact that humans are determined to live where Nature never intended was the first step in designing the solution.

The firm’s concept, called “Tornado House,” is a demonstration in something it calls “kinetic design.” A series of simple hydraulic levers push the home in and out of the ground, and deflect and warp the outer skin inresponse to external stimulation. 

The key activators of this motion would be high velocity winds associated with thunderstorms and tornadoes. The creators say the House’s ambulatory design was inspired by a combination of existing items, including garage doors, flowers, and the way a turtle draws its head into its shell when threatened.

The house’s outer skin would be comprised of a series of solar cells that would rotate and flex to attain maximum solar intensity. The translucent outer skin would also offer clear insulation sandwiched between two layers of Kevlar in order to provide a necessary weather barrier while also allowing natural sunlight into all parts of the structure.

“We are also exploring the application of photocatalytic coatings and carbon nanotubes on the skin to absorb and clean pollution turning it directly into fuel for the home to power the hydraulics,” write the designers on Behance. In this way, homes of the future would not only be self-sufficient, the would also be ready to adapt, almost instantly, to anything Nature sends their way.

Beth Buczynski, EarthTechling