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Waterproof housing designing for flood resistance


Last week I saw the release of the Jacked Up House in the press…

My initial reaction to the ‘Jacked-Up’ house was one of excitement, but I was a tad disappointed the visual incorporated such an average looking house. I also found it a little odd that the house is made of brick as this is a rather heavy material, we currently have a great excuse to use alternative light weight materials as there are not enough bricklayers to go around.

My view is that off-site construction is the way forward which opens up all sorts of possibilities with construction methods and materials.

Also if there was another half a metre of headroom under the soffit of the jacked up house then the house could be permanently elevated on stilts and the space underneath could be used for car parking or a covered play area. The major issue with the ‘Jacked-Up’ house is that the house has to be evacuated during the flooded period.

Earlier this year we generated the ‘Orbital Housing’ concept which is a high density, low rise housing masterplan that could be a better remedy to flood risk than the jacked up house.We placed eleven 3 bed detached houses around a raised oval communal play area. The houses themselves are placed 600mm above street level for separation from passing traffic whilst also acting as a mild flooding deterrent. There is only one door and a side gate to the front elevation, if these were to be of submarine quality and the walls were waterproof then there is no reason why the flooding could not rise to 1.6m above before there would be a major risk.

The real beauty of this scheme is that the carports are interconnecting ringlets initially conceived as an endless wilderness park scape. It would not take too long for say drones to knit a rope framework to take a temporary bridge which would permit the house to be continually lived in during the flooding period. There are other benefits to this design, firstly there is a roof garden, which is lacking with the ‘Jacked-Up’ house.

Orbital House by Envelope Architects Ltd – Elevation indicating low & high water levels, bridge installation and refuse/surface water pipes

The scheme also benefits from a vacuum pipe refuse collecting service. These pipes could be used to transport unwanted surface water during the flooding period.

In summary then our opinion is the ‘Jacked-Up’ house requires more consideration to matters of master-planning, modern methods of construction and a healthy injection of additional creativity before the prototype should be realised.

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