How to Deal With Flooding? Build Floating Houses, Obviously

Innovative architects are testing amphibious homes in Thailand that can rise 10 feet above the ground.
Mar 10, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Samantha Cowan is an associate editor for culture.

If you can’t beat climate change, why not adapt to the problem instead?

Thailand is notorious for its temperamental weather, and more than 800 people died from massive flooding during the country’s monsoon season in 2011. Instead of bracing for another natural disaster to strike, innovative architects are now building amphibious homes that can withstand rising waters.

The first successfully constructed home, a small structure in a village two hours outside Bangkok, doesn’t look out of the ordinary—but hiding underneath the $86,000 house are floating steel pontoons packed with Styrofoam. The pontoons can lift the structure almost 10 feet off the ground during flooding. The house, built by architecture firm A Site-Specific Experiment, was constructed for Thailand’s National Housing Authority, but this price point is more affordable for upper-middle-class families.

“It’s better not to fight nature but to work with nature, and amphibious architecture is one answer,” architect Chuta Sinthuphan of A Site-Specific Experiment told Reuters. "We can try to build walls to keep the water out, but that might not be a sustainable permanent solution."

The cost of flooding disasters is estimated to grow at an alarming rate in the next 35 years. While global flooding disasters cost about $6 billion in 2005, the number is expected to skyrocket to $52 billion in 2050, according to figures from the World Bank. Asia and the Pacific areas of the world are disproportionately affected, with more than 40 percent of the natural disasters recorded from 2004 to 2013.

Floating houses aren’t the only option for combating the growing concerns of extreme weather. Thailand is also forging ahead with more traditional infrastructure solutions, such as using sandbags to redirect water flow and building homes on stilts, according to Reuters.

While Thailand’s problems might seem distant, plenty of U.S. cities are at risk for massive flooding in the years to come. Miami, Atlantic City, and Washington, D.C., could experience 200 days of flooding annually by 2045, according to the World Bank. Looks like the U.S. could take a cue or two from the creative solutions taking shape abroad.