A house that rises up on stilts to escape flooding seems like a fine idea. After all, permanently raised homes exist all over the world, for flood avoidance, to keep animals and vermin out, and even to stop the house from melting the permafrost on which it is built. But when you imagine a house that can rise up over troubled waters, you probably don't imagine a traditional brick box, straight out of a child's drawing. Unsurprisingly, this ultra-conservative design comes from the U.K.
The proposed house would weight 71 tons, and could be raised to five feet in just five minutes. The idea is that you watch out for flood warnings—England has been flooding a lot more often in recent years, and will continue to if climate change continues unchecked—and raise the house out of harm's way. And while you're not meant to keep living in it while raised, it will remain connected enough to keep your freezer running, and your toilet flushed:
Rooftop solar panels and a battery would provide the house with some continuing electricity supply when raised above the ground and the water and sewage would remain connected through flexible hoses. However, it is not envisaged that residents would remain in occupation during floods. Instead, the householders would pack up, lock up and jack up the home before taking refuge in temporary accommodation on higher ground elsewhere.
The building company behind this design, the Larkfleet Group, sees it as a way to land otherwise unfit for building homes. The idea is that "householders would pack up, lock up and jack up the home before taking refuge in temporary accommodation on higher ground elsewhere," says the press release.
As Treehugger's Lloyd Alter asks of the design, whatever happened to form following function? The U.K. is extremely conservative when it comes to buildings, especially homes. Buyers want them to have pitched roofs, and preferably some features (fake columns, fancy window frames) that make them look like they were built at least a century ago. Few people choose to live in purpose-made apartment buildings, and apartment-living in general is seen (outside London, at least) as a second-class option. So as an Englishman, this throwback design doesn't surprise me one bit.
Rethinking housing to better suit its environment, and the needs of its users, is just good design. Jacking up a traditional brick house certainly isn't that. But the traditional design of Larkfleet's house does have one big advantage: English people might actually buy it, unlike those fancy modern houses, of which the neighbors would never approve.
[All Images: via Larkfleet Group]