The Lancet Planetary health in its editorial piece offers some interesting architectural solutions that would help urban areas adapt to climate change.
Hurricanes have increased in intensity and frequency in the past two or three decades particularly in the North Atlantic and Indian oceans claiming lives and costing billions of dollars of damage in infrastructures and developments especially in coastal areas partially due to increasing developments in the area.
Climate models predict an increase of 45 to 87 per cent increase of category 4 and 5 hurricanes on the Atlantic basin in the US. Category 5 is the deadliest kind according to the editorial.
There has only been an average of 6 Atlantic hurricanes since the 1970s but in 2017 alone, there were ten hurricanes. The worst was Category 5 Maria, that left 2,975 dead in Puerto Rico.
If hurricanes become the new norm, how will the design of our cities and houses adapt to this changing climate?
The editorial presented three interesting and innovative architectural designs that could withstand these strong and frequent hurricanes.
First, elevated houses or buildings on stilts. These designs could withstand storm damage and even storm surges and floods. And design buildings that would be resilient to high winds and flying pieces of debris. Building designs by architect Dionisio González brings out a sense of ‘surrealism’, but nevertheless are designed for resilience against extreme weather conditions.
Second, is the spherical shaped homes conceived by architect Patrick Marsilli, which has been shown to withstand even the category 5 hurricane according to the editorial. These spherical “Ekinoids” also provides sustainable, disaster-proof and off-the-grid living according to a CNET article (Starr, 2013).
With our current lifestyle of consuming a lot of power, water, packaging, and food these spherical structures promise a much smaller footprint. Ekinoid homes stand on legs off the ground making it flood and stormproof. It is accessible via a spiral staircase that can also be a hydroponic garden for food. It collects rainwater and recycles greywater, and powered by a solar panel with an option to add a wind turbine (Starr, 2013).
The structure is also spacious, providing 239 square meters of living space in over three floors, its internal diameter is 9.75 meters, and a standing height of 12.8 metres tall (Starr, 2013).
Altogether, Ekinoid homes can offer an all-in-one climate change solution package.
The third is the use of Climate Tile. A type of pavement used in Copenhagen Denmark to mitigate flooding in urban areas. Designed as an adaptation strategy against climate change, it is used to catch and redirect 30% of extra rainwater due to climate change which can prevent overloading of existing drainage infrastructure (Baldwin, 2018).
The water gathered or absorbed by the climate tiles can ‘funnel’ rainwater to areas of vegetation or into water banks. Climate tiles can work in tandem with roads, bike paths, urban furniture, signage as sidewalk pavements in urban areas. It improves the microclimate of an area as well as an added value for citizens and raises its quality of life (Mcmullan, 2018).
These climate adaptation designs need a socio-political commitment to become a realistic option and funding research designs projects that will conceptualize what building designs should look in the 21st century onwards as solutions to short-term and long-term solutions in preserving the planet the editorial says.
For cities with disaster-prone areas cities, we would like to recommend for your further reading the post we published on Building Back Better