Brad Pitt has been making waves in the green building world lately, so it’s only appropriate that the newest house completed for his Make It Right Foundation project be a floating one. Being revealed today in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, the Float House by Morphosis Architects, goes beyond sustainable design and construction and is built within the context of its environment – it can float. In case of flooding, the home can literally break away from it’s moorings and rise up up to 12 feet on two guideposts. It won’t float away, but it will act as a raft and provide the family with enough battery power to allow them to survive for up to three days until help arrives.
Thom Mayne, founder of Morphosis and winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, wanted to build a home that could survive through hurricane flooding as well fit in with the surrounding homes. He and his team designed a house that was essentially built on a chassis of polystyrene foam and covered with glass-reinforced concrete. During hurricane flooding conditions, the home could break away from its electrical lines, gas and plumbing and rise with the flood waters. Anchored to its site by two guideposts the home could sustain 12 foot high flood waters.
While it has never been tested in real life flood conditions, Morphosis conducted extensive computer simulations and modeled it to withstand Hurricane Katrina-like conditions. There is also a battery backup in the home with enough capacity to power crucial appliances for up to three days.
As with all Make It Right homes, the Float House is built with environmentally friendly materials, but in contrast to the other homes, this one is built on the ground level rather than 12 feet above the ground. Mayne and Morphosis wanted to retain the look of the existing community and make it more accessible to people who didn’t want to or couldn’t get up a huge flight of stairs. Mayne says about the house and design, “Hopefully it never gets used. But when it gets used, it’s important.”