Building For The Big One: Four Designs With Disaster In Mind

Call it the Hurricane Sandy Effect — the superstorm that, in the words of Bill McKibben “rang the doorbell of the richest people on Earth” also hit one of the most densely developed regions of the U.S. As such,it’s gotten a lot of smart people thinking about building with disaster in mind.

Among them are the folks over at Architizer, who’ve seen a lot of futuristic designs in recent years designed with disaster in mind. What follows is a round up of some of their favorite such designs, and some of ours as well. Come hell or high water, these are structures built to last.

1.  Callebau / Haiti

Haiti, Callebaut

image via Architizer / Vincent Callebaut

The Belgian architect Vincent Callebau also just happens to be a vertical-farming enthusiast. Does this fixation on the integration of nature and the built environment color his thinking on building for disaster? Almost certainly. Callebau has called on planners in Haiti to take a cue from the structure of coral reefs in rebuilding, via a proposal that calls for a modular reef built atop seismic piles on an artificial pier in the Caribbean Sea. Two wavy hills of wood-clad metal modules support either end of a a central valley tricked out with terraces and food-producing garden (of course). The architect envisions each of these modules as containing a collection of homes built to Passive House standards that could shelter more than one thousand Haitian families up to and through the next hurricane.

2. Schopfer / New Orleans

New Orleans, Schopfer

image via Architizer / E. Kevin Schopfer

Call it Noah’s architecture — the New Orleans Arcology Habitat (NOAH) proposal by E. Kevin Schopfer was designed to ride out the next Katrina. NOAH makes use of a unique open triangular structure that shunts severe winds right through the middle of the building. Flood-ready and buoyant, this large-scale, mixed-use complex would shelter for 40,000 people, and includes three hotels and casinos, cultural facilities, a district school system, and a health-care facility on the Mississippi River. It would also make use of on-site renewable energy, organic gardens and pedestrian-friendly systems for internal transportation.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.