Natural disasters in any form reap complete and utter architectural mayhem. Not only does this contribute to the loss of life in these times due to building collapses, the entrapment of people, and general dislodgement of building material, but the mayhem caused makes returning to normal living standards directly after these events near impossible.
However, the industry is offering to do more than offer aid after disasters strike – through the development of responsive architectural concepts they are aiding in the safety and wellbeing of people and their built habitats before the natural disasters comet to fruition.
One such major disaster situation occurred in Thailand last year, with major floods affecting nearly 13.6 million people, with 815 deaths and almost US$4.5 billion worth of damages. In response to the events the industry have come forward with a series of design concepts that hope to safeguard the Thai people from the inhumane living conditions they faced when the high flood waters simply did not run off.
One such concept, named Pangolin House by Supermachine Studio incorporates sustainable design principles and technologies so that a constant high standard of living can be achieved, which is inclusive of electricity, for residents even though they do not have access to electricity.
The building’s design is upwards orientated, with an elevated structural form in order to safeguard from floodwaters, a detachable roof that can act as an emergency floating structure and the major living spaces high off the ground, including a rooftop garden and terrace. The curved shape means that even in a high water environment, the building is not shut off, it simply ‘harmonises with the water during the flood season’ according to the designers.
What makes this particular design so very unique is its skin. The façade of the building is expected to be created from thousands of programmed openings, which when connected to what has only been labeled as ‘intelligent software’ they will react to the weather conditions, opening and closing as weather permits.
The solid skin at ground level will have the ability to open so that water can flow through avoiding major structural damage caused by the strong water currents. Instead of traditional windows, the building expects to use dye-sensitised solar panels, which will generate solar energy in addition to offering the translucence of traditional windows.
While this architectural notion does offer to solve a number of challenges, and could stand as a strong example of a flood proof structure, some of the technologies are simply not viable as yet. However – the development of concepts such as these should not be discouraged as it puts the focus back onto resilience developments, something that becoming an increasingly necessary sector.