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FLOAT House Is Big Easy Green

Affordable Green Housing For Flood-prone Regions

Brad-Pitt-Make-It-Right-Floating-House-3-537x359Way down yonder in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, a few blocks east of the Industrial Canal that links the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain and the Gulf of Mexico, something wonderful happened yesterday. Where multiple breaches along the levees of the Industrial Canal and the Intracoastal Waterway resulted in devastating flooding and damage in the Lower Ninth Ward and New Orleans East from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, a public unveiling, ribbon cutting ceremony and celebration of another completed house in New Orleans. But Sugar, this ain’t no ordinary house …………

The FLOAT House is a new kind of house, one that can sustain its own water and power needs; a house that can survive the floodwaters generated by a storm the size of Hurricane Katrina; and a house that can be manufactured cheaply enough to function as low-income housing.

Morphosis Architects, under the direction of architect and UCLA Professor Thom Mayne, has completed the first floating house permitted in the United States for Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation in New Orleans. The FLOAT House is a new model for flood-safe, affordable and sustainable housing that is designed to float securely with rising water levels.

MIR-277Mayne led a team from Morphosis Architects and graduate students from UCLA Architecture and Urban Design in this innovative housing project to help with the rebuilding of the Lower Ninth Ward post-Hurricane Katrina. The concept emerged from a study of the flooding record, social and cultural history of the city, and the ecology of the Mississippi Delta.

Like the traditional New Orleans “shotgun” house, the FLOAT House sits on a raised four-foot (1.2 m), base, preserving the community’s vital front porch culture and facilitating accessibility for elderly and disabled residents. However in the event of flooding, the base of this house – reconceived as a chassis — acts as a raft, allowing the house to rise vertically on guide posts, securely floating up to twelve feet (3.6 m), as water levels rise. While not designed for occupants to remain in the home during a hurricane, this innovative structure aims to minimize catastrophic damage and preserve the homeowner’s investment in their property. This approach also allows for the early return of occupants in the aftermath of a hurricane or flood. Designed in response to Ninth Ward residents’ specific needs, the FLOAT House serves as a scalable prototype that can be mass-produced and adapted to the needs of communities world-wide facing similar challenges, like the Phillippines at this very moment.
This high-performance “chassis” is a prefabricated module, made from polystyrene foam coated in glass fiber reinforced concrete, which hosts all of the essential equipment to supply power, water and fresh air. The chassis is engineered to support a range of home configurations. The chassis was designed and built by Morphosis Architects and UCLA graduate students on the UCLA campus. In July 2009 the chassis was transported to New Orleans where prefabricated modules designed by the group were assembled on-site.

While the Morphosis floating house is the first to be permitted in the United States, the technology was developed and is in use in the Netherlands where architects and developers are working to address an increased demand for housing in the face of rising sea levels associated with climate change.

house2On track for a LEED Platinum Rating, the state-of-the-art home uses high-performance systems, energy efficient appliances, and prefabrication methods to produce an affordable, sustainable house that generates its own power, minimizes resource consumption, and collects its own water:

• Solar Power Generation: The roof supports solar panels that generate all of the house’s power, resulting in net-zero annual energy consumption. The chassis incorporates electrical systems to store and convert solar power for daily use, and to give back to the electrical grid during the temperate fall and spring months.
• Rainwater Collection: The sloped concave roof collects rainwater,20and funnels it to cisterns housed in the chassis, where it is filtered and stored for daily use.
• Efficient Systems—including low-flow plumbing fixtures, low-energy appliances, high performance windows, and highly insulated SIPs (Structural Insulated Panel) walls and roof—minimize water and power consumption, and lower the lifecycle cost for the home owner.
• High-grade energy efficient kitchen, appliances and fixtures maximize durability and reduce the need for replacement.
• Geothermal Heating and Cooling: A geothermal mechanical system heats and cools the air via a ground source heat pump, which naturally conditions the air, minimizing the energy required to cool the house in the harsh summer months and heat it in winter.

The houses could sell move-in ready for around $150,000 not bad for all the sustainability that comes with it. I just don’t know about $150k being considered ‘low income’. Anyway, for an illustrated parts diagram, go to FLOAT House

Brad Pitt founded Make It Right in 2007 to help the Lower 9th Ward residents who lost their homes during Katrina. With emphasis on building stronger, safer and more energy efficient housing, more than a dozen homes have been completed – with families moved in – on the site, and another 20 are under construction. Plans call for 50 homes on the site by December and 150 by the end of next year.

I’m just lovin’ it ….. as the green future unfolds!

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No Responses to “FLOAT House Is Big Easy Green”

  1. wilson Says:

    Great to know it, Linda. Well, the FLOAT Houses’ design is very stylish and futuristic, but it would be better, if it can keep the selling cost under $100K…
    .-= wilson´s last blog ..Taking Medicines with Milk is not a Wise Idea! =-.

  2. Linda Says:

    Hi Wilson … I agree and I believe they are working on reducing the price.

  3. cool games Says:

    Wow this is so cool, I wonder how would the houses look if flooding arrives 🙂

    All floating on the water hehe, this is a great invention and can also be used as a boat later on i guess if the flooding becomes too large 😛

  4. Linda Says:

    Hi cool games … that is part of the concept for especially here in the hurrican path. The neat thing is that is it really self sufficient.

    Hi Brad … I think that this is pretty cool too! BTW, I am unable to comment on your blog but we have the best working on it and I will be by to depart my wisdom! 😀

    Hi Diane … This concept will certainly give them a run for their money. 🙂

  5. Brad Says:

    Hey Linda!

    This is a pretty intriguing concept. Being from the Seattle area, we see houseboats all the time, but this seems to take the idea to a new proactive level.

    It would be interesting to know whether one of these has ever actually seen a storm yet or not and what the practical results may have been.

    Thanks my friend!
    .-= Brad´s last blog ..Step Right Up! Get Your “Isms” Here! =-.

  6. Diane Scott Says:

    Wow, what an EXCELLENT idea! Think of all that flood insurance savings, that industry must be wondering about its future LOL!
    .-= Diane Scott´s last blog ..How To Save Even More With Dell Home Coupons =-.

  7. Barbara Says:

    I’m loving this! Like Brad said, we have houseboats up here in Washington. But this is the right idea, for areas that have terrible weather to deal with!
    .-= Barbara´s last blog ..The Treasure Of Our National Parks =-.

  8. Linda Says:

    Hi Barbara … I believe these would work up there just nicely!

    Hi Tim … It certainly is a vast improvement.

  9. Tim Says:

    What an improvement over the old houseboats.

  10. vein Says:

    I’d live in that house in a second. But it looks a bit like a starter home while costing rather more. i wonder if it will appeal for many people in the marketplace?
    .-= vein´s last blog ..Classic covers: Claudia =-.

  11. Linda Says:

    Hi vein … yes, it may cost more but it is set for a long while and costs less to manage.

  12. TheThriftyMama Says:

    Wow! That is awesome! Thanks for sharing this!

  13. Linda Says:

    Hi Thrifty Mama … You are most welcome

  14. Maureen Says:

    Something to think about- I wonder how many could have been helped if these were available then?
    .-= Maureen´s last blog ..TVI Express: Is It Hype? =-.

  15. Linda Says:

    Hi Maureen … A BUNCH! There have been a lot of lessons learned in the aftermaths of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike. People were/are upset at how we handled the disasters and are trying to find ways to assist in the future.

  16. ConnieFoggles Says:

    I heard about Brad Pitt being involved with building homes in New Orleans but I had no idea that they were sustainable like this. What a fantastic concept put into action!
    .-= ConnieFoggles´s last blog ..Winners Harry Connick Jr. CD And Sweet Tomatoes Souplantation Meal Passes =-.

  17. Linda Says:

    Hi Connie … His efforts to get this rolling along with helping out New Orleans have been hard but progress is being made.

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