Vietnam: Amphibiation in the Mekong River delta
The Buoyant Foundation Project has retrofitted four houses in the Mekong River delta, Vietnam, as a supplementary system to the vernacular practice of elevating houses on stilts. This practice is a traditional response to the annual flooding cycle that is inseparable from the geographic location. The practice cannot adapt to the exaggerated flooding predicted to occur due to climate change. The buoyant retrofits are thus means to provide flood resilience to the physical architecture and the possessions of these individuals, and protection from possible catastrophic and traumatic disruptions to the localized culture and economy of these communities.
These retrofits are effective, preemptive solutions to the dangers posed by annual flooding events to impoverished and vulnerable communities in the region. They also serve as a proof-of-concept, as experiments and sources of data, which might provide the basis for the improvement of this foundation system and for the propagation of this strategy throughout South-East Asia.
This project was carried out with support from the Global Resilience Partnership and the Z Zurich Foundation.
Waterloo, Ontario: NRC Research Pavilion
Indigenous communities in Canada have a deep connection with the land they inhabit; however, increased flooding from climate change is posing a risk to their wellbeing. With support from National Research Council of Canada, the Buoyant Foundation Project is constructing an amphibious pavilion prototype as an experimental facility to serve as a proof of concept of amphibious construction. It will also allow the monitoring and evaluation of its performance in the Canadian context of freeze-thaw cycles. In particular, the pavilion is intended as a full-scale demonstration for Indigenous leaders who may be considering adopting amphibious retrofit construction in their communities. The ultimate goals of the project are to provide cost effective retrofits to vulnerable homes in First Nations communities and to develop preliminary guidelines leading to the eventual inclusion of amphibious construction in the Canadian Building Code.
The prototype has been installed in a pond on the University of Waterloo’s north campus where there are fluctuations in water level that will allow monitoring of its performance during flooding. The pavilion was constructed in modular components at the School of Architecture satellite campus in Cambridge in April and installed on north campus in October, 2018.
performance in the Canadiy be considering adopting amphibious retrofit
construction in their communities. The ultimate goals
of the project are to provide cost effective retrofits to
vulnerable homes in First Nre there are
fluctuations in water level that will allow monitoring
of its performance during flooding. The pavilion was
constructed in modular components at the School of
Architecture satellite campus in Cambridge, in April,
and installed on north campus in October, 2018.
This work was carried out with the support of a grant from the National Research Council of Canada
Jamaica: Port Maria and Bliss Pastures
Numerous low-income areas of Jamaica are subject to severe repetitive seasonal flooding. Lacking adequate government support, these communities require a flood mitigation strategy that is both affordable and simple to implement.
The communities of Port Maria and Bliss Pastures, Jamaica are two communities that are significantly impacted by seasonal flooding. Flooding in these areas causes significant damage to homes and creates significant health risks due to overflowing open pit latrines. Despite repetitive flood damage, Jamaicans continue to live in these flood prone communities. Amphibious retrofit is a cost-sensitive way to keep inhabitants and their possessions safe from flooding.
By applying a buoyant foundation system using buoyancy blocks composed of expanded polystyrene, and using half-length telephone poles or locally harvested decay-resistant tree species for the vertical guidance posts, members of these low-income communities can retrofit their existing homes with amphibious foundations at minimal cost, protecting themselves and their possessions from flood damage.
Buoyant foundation retrofits can be affordable for people of limited means. When compared to the potential cost of relocating and repairing flood damage, buoyant foundation retrofits are a low-cost, low-environmental impact solution.
This work was carried out with the support of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada
Louisiana: Isle de Jean Charles
The native American Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Band of Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana, is rapidly losing their low-lying traditional homeland as sea level rises and land subsides due to extensive sub-surface oil and gas extraction. Cultural ties to the land combined with a lack of resources to relocate as a community leave the remaining band members vulnerable to an ever-growing risk of flooding.
In the Lake Managua Area of Nicaragua, there is a confluence of population, hurricane paths and volcanic activity. A study of the site shows the social and economic benefit of an amphibious foundation system tailored to the local bamboo economy. The construction of amphibious housing would generate local assembly jobs, and improve the quality of life for the people living in this tumultious region.
Illinois: Farnsworth House
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s 1951 Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois is one of the most famous examples of modernist domestic architectecture. It is an aesthetic orchestra of simplicity, transparency, and integration with its unique landscape. Despite being originally designed in accordance with the projected 100-year flood depth, in recent years the Farnsworth House increasingly suffered from floodwater damage from the adjacent Fox River. It is in dire need of a flood-proofing solution that preserves its iconic appearance in any way.
The Buoyant Foundation Project
Amphibious construction is an adaptive flood risk reduction strategy that works in synchrony with natural cycles of flodding to reduce the hazard vulnerability of flood prone regions and increase their long term disaster resilience.