Flooding is a significant problem for buildings all around the world, including architectural treasures like the Farnsworth House that have been plagued by the issue time and time again. In particular, one-third of the entire continental U.S. are at risk of flooding this spring, especially the Northern Plains, Upper Midwest, and Deep South. Last April, deadly floods decimated parts of Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Iran as well, resulting in a low estimate of 1,000 deaths while tens of thousands more were displaced. While architecture cannot solve or even fully protect from the most deadly floods, it is possible – and necessary – to take several protective measures that could mitigate damage and consequently save lives.
Flooding: The Latest Architecture and News
Built in a flood plain along the Fox River, the Farnsworth House, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is endangered again. Floodwaters are threatening the modernist house once more, as water levels are rising to reach the top of the house’s steel columns, covering its lower terrace.
KPF and the Chiofaro Company have released images of their latest project The Pinnacle at Central Wharf, a high performance and resilient mixed-use development on the Boston Harbor waterfront. Aiming to reconnect Downtown Boston to the waterfront, the project also puts in place a new public space.
Goldman Sachs has released a report on the effects of climate change on cities across the world. The study explored the major changes that will transform the planet and highlighted several metropolises that will be at risk of flooding.
Kjellander Sjöberg, one of the leading architectural practices in Scandinavia, in collaboration with GHB Landskabsarkitekter, Mogens A. Morgen, Realise and Tyréns, was selected to design a strategic development plan for Faaborg. The coastal town in southern Denmark is facing many challenges like a high risk of flooding and an important decrease in its population.
Two Trees Management Company, a New York-based real estate development firm, has presented a master plan for the Northern Brooklyn waterfront, a new approach to urban resiliency. Designed by BIG and Field Operations, the project puts in place a mixed-use development and a resilient park.
Istanbul-based practice SO? have designed and built a prototype floating structure for post-earthquake relief. “Fold&Float” is formed of a light, foldable steel structure specifically designed for emergency situations.
Developed off the back of emergency assembly points being designated by the authorities in 2001, SO? questioned where people could be housed in the event of an earthquake. The question has gained added significance in the last 20 years, with Istanbul having privatized 70% of the land set aside for emergency assembly. The result was a floating structure that depends not on vacant, stable land, but on managing water.
RAAAF and Atelier de Lyon's Monumental "Deltewerk //" is a Tribute to the Majesty of Dutch Flood Defenses
Amsterdam-based RAAAF and Atelier de Lyon have completed an imposing Dutch monument paying tribute to the country’s centuries-old flood defense systems. “Deltawerk //” appropriates the enormous decaying test models in the Waterloopbos national monument, a former Dutch Hydrodynamics laboratory.
Deltawerk //, which opened September 27th, is envisioned as a “tribute to the majesty and seemingly indestructible power of the Dutch delta works,” shedding new light on the “practice of preserving cultural heritage.”
Against the backdrop of an ever-increasing number of its farmers committing suicides, and its cities crumbling under intensifying pressure on their water resources—owing to their rapidly growing populations—India has revived its incredibly ambitious Interlinking of Rivers (ILR) project which aims to create a nation-wide water-grid twice the length of the Nile. The $168 billion project, first envisioned almost four decades ago, entails the linkage of thirty-seven of the country’s rivers through the construction of thirty canals and three-thousand water reservoirs. The chief objective is to address India’s regional inequity in water availability: 174 billion cubic meters of water is proposed to be transported across river basins, from potentially water-surplus to water-deficit areas.
The project is presented by the Indian government as the only realistic means to increase the country’s irrigation potential and per-capita water storage capacity. However, it raises ecological concerns of gargantuan proportions: 104,000 hectares of forest land will be affected, leading to the desecration of natural ecosystems. Experts in hydrology also question the scientific basis of treating rivers as “mere conduits of water.” Furthermore, the fear of large-scale involuntary human displacement—an estimated 1.5 million people—likely to be caused by the formation of water reservoirs is starting to materialize into a popular uprising.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous house, Fallingwater, was the recipient of minor damage after heavy rainfall caused the creek that gives the house its name, Bear Run, to flood last weekend.
According to Fallingwater director Lynda Waggoner, a fallen log picked up by the overflow rammed into the stone wall of the lower plunge pool, breaking off the wall’s capstone and dislodging one of the home’s signature sculpture pieces, the Jacques Lipchitz’s “Mother and Child.” The cast bronze sculpture was selected for Fallingwater by Wright, and installed soon after its completion in 1939.
Kunlé Adeyemi’s recent work, the 'Makoko Floating School', is an innovative, prototype floating structure located on the lagoon heart of Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos. This acclaimed project is part of an extensive research project - 'African Water Cities' - being developed by NLÉ, an architecture, design, and urbanism practice founded by Adeyemi in 2010 with a focus on developing cities and communities.
Architects can do far more than design buildings. In fact, some of history’s most acclaimed innovators were not only architects, but also inventors. Leonardo da Vinci himself, the epitome of the Renaissance man, sketched buildings alongside ideas for flying machines. Buckminster Fuller was the ultimate futurist and invented the geodesic dome in addition to his Dymaxion Car, an automobile that was far ahead of its time. Now, an architect has developed “the world’s first hoverboard,” and the technology has far-reaching implications for not only transportation, but also buildings themselves. Read on after to break to learn more about what this technology could mean for the future.
Yesterday, US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced OMA, BIG and four other teams as the winner of "Rebuild by Design", a competition aimed at rebuilding areas affected by Hurricane Sandy focusing on resilience, sustainability and and livability.
Read more about the winning schemes after the break
This article by Jonathan Ward, originally published on Arup Thoughts as "A Top-Down Approach to Flood Prevention" discusses a cheap, simple, but effective method of easing the load on drainage after a storm: temporary storage of water on flat roofs, which can not only help to prevent floods, but also provide unexpected benefits as well.
Gravity offers a simple and cheap way to attenuate stormwater flows – by storing water temporarily on a flat roof. All sorts of causes are being blamed for the current flooding in the UK; lack of dredging, poor management of catchment areas, construction on flood plains and paving over front gardens are all being mentioned in the press.
One thing is for sure – we will be paying a lot more attention to the topic given the current experience, and the fact that wetter winters are predicted in our changing climate, with a certainty of more extreme events.
Read on for an explanation of why this counter-intuitive measure actually makes perfect sense
Between Hurricane Sandy in the USA and ongoing storms and floods damaging large areas of Britain, the issues of flood prevention and coastal defense are now a top priority for planners on both sides of the Atlantic. This article in the Guardian asks whether it might be time to give in to the sea and rethink our affinity for coastal living; and this one on Architecture Boston asks to what extent society should be expected to foot the bill for those in high-risk areas, and wonders how, legally, the state could encourage people to live elsewhere.
The challenges of sea-level rise cross boundaries of all sorts: geographic, political, social, economic. Proposed mitigation strategies will also necessarily shift and overlap. Here, we present five case studies from across the globe that offer intriguing ways—some operational, some philosophical—to address the threats associated with climate change. Drawing on a research initiative focused on vulnerabilities in Boston, a team at Sasaki Associates developed these additional design-strategy icons to illustrate the layered approaches. They are adaptable, the better to meet the unique demands of each coastal community.
OMA’s comprehensive strategy to rebuild the New Jersey city of Hoboken, after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, has been selected as one of ten initiatives moving forward in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Rebuild by Design competition. The proposal, Resist, Delay, Store, Discharge, focuses on establishing resiliency through the integration of key infrastructural elements that not only protects coastal neighborhoods, but also the entire city of Hoboken.