Houses that Float on Water

Photo by Tony Lam Hoang on Unsplash

A Water Window project honored at COP 23 as a Best Climate Practice.

The Buoyant Foundation Project (BFD), Development of Amphibious Homes for Marginalized and Vulnerable Populations led by architecture professor Dr. Elizabeth English of the University of Waterloo, Canada was honored as a Best Climate Practice. The honor was presented by the Initiative on Climate Change Policy and Governance (ICCG) at the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in Bonn, Germany.

The BFD project was one of 12 projects that received funding from the Global Resilience Partnership Water Window Challenge (Water Window) by Zurich Insurance Group and the Z Zurich Foundation in 2017.

The Water Window addresses resilience in flood prone communities. The objective of the challenge is to promote water resilience to a range of shocks and stresses by developing and testing novel solutions that address local contexts with dedicated public and private sector funding, to implement and scale the most promising solution in the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and South and Southeast Asia. There are 11 scale and seed projects being supported under the challenge. Further details can be found here.  

The idea of the BFD project is to adapt a model for low-cost amphibious houses that was tested in flood-prone areas of Louisiana, USA to the flood-prone areas of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. Dr. English and her team will retrofit houses in the Delta with a contraption that allows the house to move vertically up and down with the help of guiding poles and floating rafters. The poles and rafters will allow the house to rise up and float on water when flooding occurs, creating flood resilient homes.

In Vietnam, the team hopes to teach villagers how to implement amphibious architecture into their existing stilted homes. In an interview with United Nations Radio, English said “it’s really a very simple system they (Vietnamese villagers) just don’t know about it or how to do it, but if we give them some examples and teach them how to do it, they can do it themselves.”

Congratulations to Dr. English and her team for the honor and for the innovative model to create flood resilience in poor, vulnerable communities.