Call it the Hurricane Sandy Effect – the superstorm that, in the words of Bill McKibben “rang the doorbell of the richest people on Earth” also hit one of the most densely developed regions of the U.S.
As such, it’s gotten a lot of smart people thinking about building with disaster in mind.
Among them are the folks over at Architizer, who’ve seen a lot of futuristic designs in recent years designed with disaster in mind. What follows is a round up of some of their favorite such designs, and some of ours as well. Come hell or high water, these are structures built to last.
1. Callebau / Haiti
The Belgian architect Vincent Callebau also just happens to be a vertical-farming enthusiast. Does this fixation on the integration of nature and the built environment color his thinking on building for disaster? Almost certainly.
Callebau has called on planners in Haiti to take a cue from the structure of coral reefs in rebuilding, via a proposal that calls for a modular reef built atop seismic piles on an artificial pier in the Caribbean Sea. Two wavy hills of wood-clad metal modules support either end of a a central valley tricked out with terraces and food-producing garden (of course).
The architect envisions each of these modules as containing a collection of homes built to Passive House standards that could shelter more than one thousand Haitian families up to and through the next hurricane.
2. Schopfer / New Orleans
Call it Noah’s architecture — the New Orleans Arcology Habitat (NOAH) proposal by E. Kevin Schopfer was designed to ride out the next Katrina. NOAH makes use of a unique open triangular structure that shunts severe winds right through the middle of the building.
Flood-ready and buoyant, this large-scale, mixed-use complex would shelter for 40,000 people, and includes three hotels and casinos, cultural facilities, a district school system, and a health-care facility on the Mississippi River. It would also make use of on-site renewable energy, organic gardens and pedestrian-friendly systems for internal transportation.
HWKN Architects of New York was one of those firms giving some serious thought to how conventional forms of architecture might become more responsive and resilient to disaster before Sandy hit — these days, we’re imagining that their Skygrove concept is looking pretty darn prescient. The Skygrove high-rise concept draws its inspiration from the mangrove tree.
The vertical office park was designed to house corporate employees and commercial operations for the long term, responding to rising water levels in much the same way as the world’s mangrove trees and shrubs respond to inundation by coastal waters during periods of high tide.
Mangroves, which grow in saline coastal sediment habitats in the tropics and subtropics, develop complex root systems that branch out over an unstable and constantly-flooded landscape. In a corresponding fashion, the Skygrove high-rise distributes its weight over a series of points, as opposed to a single traditional foundation.
4. Waterstudio NL / Maldives
While many of the world’s architecture firms are dreaming of architecture that’s resilient in the face of climate change, Waterstudio NL and its construction partner, Dutch Docklands, is building it. One example of this is a massive new floating hotel currently under construction in the Maldives, a nation widely considered to be on the front lines of global warming.
Called the Greenstar, this hotel will feature 800 rooms and a conference center for up to 2000 participants. It is expected to become — appropriately enough — the premier location for global conferences on climate change, water management and sustainability. The Greenstar Hotel will join a number of other Waterstudio. NL projects in the Maldives, including watervilla development, a number of private floating islands, a floating yacht club, and a large, recently completed joint venture between Dutch Docklands and the Government of the Maldives resulting in an ambitious master plan with more than 800 hectares/80 million square feet of water with floating developments.