How amphibious housing can save communities in flood zones

In a TEDx Talk at Manhattan Beach, California, Dr. Elizabeth C. English shows how amphibious designs can allow communities to maintain their vibrancy, even in flood zones. As a pioneer in the emerging field of amphibious architecture, her work supports the preservation of traditional housing forms and respects local cultural practices. Her research addresses real needs in Vietnam, Canada, Nicaragua, North Carolina, and Louisana. 


Vulnerable in Vietnam

A short video detailing the Buoyant Foundation Project’s retrofit work in the Mekong River delta, Vietnam, as a supplementary system to the vernacular practice of elevating houses on stilts. The buoyant retrofits 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.


Animation of  the Amphibious Retrofitted House in Charleston

The following is an animation showing the assembly of a buoyant foundation retrofit for a typical Freedman’s Cottage.


Animation of  the Amphibious Retrofitted Farnsworth House

The following is the animation that shows a refined system that would be used to retrofit the Farnsworth House by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.


Animation of  an Amphibious Retrofitted House in An Giang, Vietnam

An animation showcasing the assembly of the various elements of a buoyant foundation projected for installation on a typical house in An Giang, Viet Nam.


Princeville Primitive Baptist Church Animation

An animation showcasing the assembly of the various elements of a buoyant foundation projected for installation on Princeville Primitive Baptist Church.


Best Climate Practice Interview

Jurors Award

An interview recorded for COP23.


Buoyant Foundation Webinar (July 2016)

The following is a video describing amphibious architecture precedents and buoyant foundations and how they can be implemented.


Buoyant Foundation Assembly Animation

An animation showcasing the assembly of the various elements of a buoyant foundation.


Amphibious Houses

Imagine affordable houses that sit on the ground when it’s dry, float in the event of a flood, and come right back down to where they were before when the water recedes. That’s Elizabeth English’s vision. The University of Waterloo architecture professor has designed an easy and cheap way to make the existing “shotgun” houses of Louisiana amphibious, so they will survive another Hurricane Katrina. She is now applying her research to homes in other flood-prone areas.


The Buoyant Foundation Project Movie

A short film of tv news broadcasts and summary of the buoyant foundation project.


Louisiana Fishermen Pioneer Floating Architecture

The fishing community on Old River in Louisiana is in a flood-prone area. In order to maintain their homes, many of the residents have mobilized to devise an innovative solution: turning their homes into floating rafts. Also known as “amphibious,” the houses usually stay grounded, but float when the water rises.


Three Houses Animation

The following is an animation of 3 typical ‘shotgun’ style houses in Louisiana. The first is a typical house without any flood protection, the second is a house that has been fixed at an elevated position of 12 feet and the last is a house where buoyant foundations have been implemented.