Had Dorothy lived in a home like this, she would have never met the Lion, the Tinman or the Scarecrow, but at least her house wouldn't have blown away and landed on a witch. Since it's unlikely we'll be able to completely avoid the dangers of tornados, our only remedy is to build in such a way as to reduce our risk from the damage of being in harm's way. Hong Kong-based 10 Design is working on a proposal for a tornado-proof house that easily belongs in the realm of a Star Trek movie. With the help of hydraulics, a high performance shell and solar power, the tornado-proof house retracts down into the ground at the first warning of an impending twister.
10 Design is basing their hopes on kinetic architecture and technological innovations to turn this futuristic dream into a reality. The tornado-proof house coalesces by taking inspiration from a large underground cavern, a flower emerging from the ground and a turtle with a survival mentality. A pod-like cylindrical living space cantilevers off a hydraulic tower foundation that emerges from underground. Down in the cavern, other domestic support areas, utilities and storage remain buried, while the home itself enjoys the open air, views, breezes and daylight.
Solar cells on the exterior rotate and flex to maximize solar power generation, while the skin itself is composed of a translucent insulation sandwiched between two layers of Kevlar. This high performance exterior provides maximum insulation, a weather tight barrier, super strong protection and a translucent skin to let light diffuse in. 10 Design is also exploring photocatalytic coatings and carbon nanotubes on the skin to absorb toxins, pollutants and CO2, which in turn would be used to power the hydraulics.
Sensors in the area and on the house monitor weather conditions constantly in preparation for inclimate weather. At the first sign of severe storms, or potential tornado conditions, the home’s exterior collapses and the home retracts down into the ground. A tornado may pass over without casing any damage and water and rain are simply repelled off the house and drained away. 10 Design has a grand vision of entire communities built with these homes, which are interwoven with sensor networks to monitor weather data. The company is currently working on a prototype in collaboration with group of ship builders in the US and Africa.