Looking for a permanent solution to the problem of flooding in Thailand, Site-Specific and Prefab Laboratory have developed a series of amphibious buildings that float during a flood. The 'Amphibious Houses' use a prefabricated steel floatation system built over a trench. As the area begins to flood, water first pools into the trench and the home begins to float and rise up with the water. The plan also includes shops, hybrid residential/commercial buildings and civic spaces, which all work together as one floating community.
The government of Thailand asked the two architecture firms to work on a solution for the increasing problem of flooding in Thailand. In the past, most people in Thailand lived near the river in homes equipped to deal with the rise and fall of the water, but as people have expanded beyond the river, their homes are no longer appropriate for flooding. As such, Site Specific and Prefab Laboratory were tasked with creating a solution that could permanently solve the property damaging and at times, life threatening, issue. Their solution came in the form of floating buildings that can rise and fall with the water. The various buildings are situated within the community so that neighbors can help each other during the flood and everyday life can continue on.
Four different types of buildings were designed to accommodate most of the needs for the community, including a residential building and civic buildings. The building is constructed on top of a prefabricated steel floatation system located in a trench underneath the home and is kept in place by a slip-column system that lets the house travel up and down with the water. The floatation system is underground for two reasons. First, with it under the house, the floatation system is hidden and the home sits at the street level, making it more appropriate for modern Thai life. Second, as flooding begins, water first pools in the trench and the home begins to be buoyant before major flooding occurs.
Backup systems like rainwater collection, solar and wind power systems, and protected food storage areas allow each home to function even if city utilities fail. The new buildings would be arranged in mini-communities typically made out of 5-10 buildings, so families can assist each other during the flood until more help arrives. Ideally, as the buildings float, no property is lost or damaged and people can continue to live as normal, albeit traveling by boat rather than by foot.