About Us

The Buoyant Foundation Project (BFP) was originally founded in 2006 to support the recovery of New Orleans’ unique and endangered traditional cultures by providing a strategy for the safe and sustainable restoration of historic housing.  Retrofitting the city’s traditional elevated wooden shotgun houses with buoyant (amphibious) foundations could prevent devastating flood damage and the destruction of neighborhood character that results from permanent static elevation high above the ground.  Buoyant foundations can provide increased safety and resilience in cases of extreme flooding, as well as support the recovery of both physical and social structures.  Since 2006, the Buoyant Foundation’s mission has broadened to apply not only to post-Katrina New Orleans but also to numerous other flood-sensitive locations around the world.  The Buoyant Foundation Project is a registered non-profit organization in the State of Louisiana. The team consists of students, professors, and alumni of the University of Waterloo School of Architecture.

Our Team

Elizabeth C English, PhD

Elizabeth C English. Ph.D. is the founder and director of the Buoyant Foundation Project, a not-for-profit organization based in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, and Cambridge, Ontario, that is a leader in the development of amphibious technologies for affordable housing and for retrofitting existing homes. She is also currently an Associate Professor at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture in Cambridge, Ontario.
Dr. English’s current research focuses on developing amphibious foundation systems as a flood mitigation and climate change adaptation strategy that supports the preservation of traditional housing forms and cultural practices. She is working on projects for indigenous and indigent populations in south Louisiana, the Canadian north, Jamaica and Vietnam. She came to flood risk reduction from a background of many years of research in the field of wind engineering, specifically in the areas of wind effects on tall buildings and hurricane wind mitigation.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and Urban Planning from Princeton University, a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a PhD in Architectural Theory from the University of Pennsylvania.

Michelle Castro Bullough

Michelle Castro Bullough

Michelle is a graduate student at the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture and Water Institute. Her research interests sit at the intersection of urban development and climate adaptation. Her thesis work explores urban history, water infrastructure, and the potential for place making and flood resilience in the Philippines’ capital region. She has worked in practices of architectural design and landscape urbanism in North America, Europe, and Southeast Asia on projects from the scale of housing and furniture to campus masterplans and territorial strategies. Her work with the Buoyant Foundation Project includes developing academic publications and grant applications.

Michelle Castro Bullough

Shabaan Khokhar

Shabaan is a graduate student at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture, and a project manager for the Buoyant Foundation Project. His academic work and thesis research focuses on accommodations for the homeless through the development of shelter architecture. With a focus on marginalized communities, Shabaan looks at how architecture serves society under a socio-economic context. He is passionate about developing architectural solutions for those without the means or capability to help themselves. Shabaan is currently managing the development of upcoming buoyant foundation prototypes.

Teresa Tran

Teresa is recent graduate student of the Water Collaborative Program at the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture. Her design thesis explored modern versus traditional sanitary standards and wastewater management systems within rural villages in Vietnam. Generally, her focus has been on design projects linked and integrated with existing and proposed infrastructural systems such as water collection and filtration, stormwater management, and sewage treatment. She has also been involved in transit-related projects in Canada and the Netherlands, ranging from underground stations, highways, and bridges. Recently she worked in Vietnam on affordable residential projects, using vernacular typologies and materials to achieve modern and sustainable designs.

Jason McMillan

Jason is a graduate student of the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. His academic work and research is focused around architecture’s confrontation with the remote, considering the relationships of human occupation and landscape, as well as the role of the remote in a wider, global context. His previous work has included reimagining the role of the commercial fishery typology in the semi-remote outport towns of Newfoundland, using existing buildings as physical and cultural infrastructure to re-vitalize communities. His current research focuses on the impacts of climate change across the Northwest Passage on the remote indigenous communities that are spread across the Arctic Archipelago. For the Buoyant Foundation Project, Jason’s work has been focused on the effects of flooding on First Nations communities in Manitoba, and the application of amphibious retrofits in these places.

Thanh Tran

Thanh is currently an architecture student at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. In addition to his current studies, he also holds an Architectural Technologist Diploma from Vanier College in Montreal. He has been involved in various renovation projects in residential and commercial sectors. With a keen interest in architectural details and construction techniques, Thanh is working with the Buoyant Foundation Project team to develop architectural details for retrofitting, and developing buoyancy systems for amphibious architecture. Thanh has also explored 3D printing technologies and material studies for innovative ways of producing structural forms. He also enjoys self-designed woodworking projects in his spare time.

Rebecca Zarins

Rebecca is an undergraduate student at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. She is particularly interested in how technological innovation can be combined practically with architectural design and construction methods to create effective solutions that improve the lives of others. She is currently exploring computational design and is involved in design and marketing for a student design team developing a personal flying device. Rebecca’s work with the Buoyant Foundation Project has been focused on developing a prototype for amphibious housing solutions in flood-prone Canadian Indigenous communities.

Yashashwini (Ruchi) Hamal

Ruchi is an undergraduate Environmental Engineering student at the University of Waterloo. She has always wanted to tackle important issues like climate adaption with her degree and by working as a co-op student for BFP, she can do exactly that. For BFP, she is mainly working on developing instruments to measure the buoyancy and freeze-thaw behavior of the National Research Council pavilion prototype. Her extra curricular activities include enhancing the engineering curriculum at her university with a “Global Engineering” perspective, which introduces students to the importance of using a multidisciplinary approach to implement sustainable, culturally-sensitive solutions to global issues. Her team does this by developing relevant in-class activities with professors and running collaborative events with different clubs on campus for Global Engineering Week (GEW).

Hollie Sin

Hollie is currently a fourth-year undergraduate student at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. From her previous co-op experiences, she has developed an interest in architectural detail drawing and how choices in construction and materials can affect a building’s efficiency and sustainability. She has predominantly worked on mid to high rise residential projects within the Design Development to Construction Documents phase, with tasks including detail drawing, 3-D modelling and coordinating with other consultants. Hollie is to begin her graduate studies in the fall, with research hoping to find a relationship between global economic conditions and the quality of construction and urban development. Her work with the Buoyant Foundation Project includes academic publications and grant applications.