The latest in a barrage of natural global assaults has been the devastating tornado that ripped through most of the United States of America this month. Although the country has taken measures traditionally to safeguard themselves from events of this nature they are as yet to construct a specifically made tornado-resistant house.
It has, however, been designed.
In his report “Tornado Resistant Housing: Designing to Survive a Tornado”, David Clemens cites four different design scenarios that have been used throughout US resilience construction, offering a fifth scenario that seems to fulfil all necessities.
Scenario one and two, while differing in certain aspects, focus on building tornado resistant homes that uses direction, mass, in addition to tornado resilient “wares” (glass, thick cement walls etc.). While these are valid and traditional methods of tornado protection, Clemens does admit that these designs do not encompass a complete safety or resistance model.
Scenario three and four face the same reality, although both have higher tornado safety measures, three is built slightly into its natural surrounds, whereas four is completely underground. While three does not offer a complete resilience, four loses the views, light and basic comforts of home living.
The fifth scenario presented is what Clements cites as “fulfilling a majority of items on the tornado resistant design checklist”, which it most certainly does. This design scenario takes the best features from both three and four designs, with a living space that is half underground, half above, including further hurricane resistant technologies in the latter section. There is still however, the issue of the above ground sections. While it may be resistant, damage is still able to be done, even if it is in small doses.
This leaves only one solution to a tornado resilient reality. It also leaves the implausible question: how can a home be both underground and above ground?
International architecture firm 10 Design have taken these tornado realities into consideration and created the perfect solution. A home that sits high above the ground in its natural state, but is able to slide underneath it when necessary.
This concept for the aptly named Tornado Proof Home is the founded on the basis of both flood and hurricane resistance and uses engineering excellence to make this a reality.
The mechanics behind this great engineering and design concept are described by the architecture firm as “a Kevlar skinned house supported on a series of hydraulic lifts that slide into the ground during extreme weather – both flood proof and water resistant”.
These lifts would activate only in the right weather circumstances and could see the pod-like home weather locked underground in a matter of seconds. This would be done automatically though a series of highly intelligent weather monitors incorporated into the home’s design.
Lead designer Ted Givens has assured that this concept is not simply an ideal, but is in fact in early prototype stages for shipment to the US and Africa.
As well as the obvious resilience features, the design includes high levels of insulation and insulator materials, solar cells and power generation, with a view to explore sustainable technologies even further with the possible integration of a pollutant absorbing exterior skin.
In terms of a design concept it is incredible. The Tornado Proof Home is essentially offering to save lives, protect homes in addition to being environmentally friendly and sound. What makes this concept so fantastic is that it is moving beyond the concept stage. While it is common to see design proposals that offer to reverse climate change, complete environmental protection and revolutionise industry practices, it is a rare occasion that these plans actually come to life. If this initiative is able to come off the page and into the real world, the industry will perhaps finally have a concrete solution to a fatal issue.