Housing responses to climate change: Analyzing architectures of transition in flood-prone zones

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperConference paper


The world’s climate is changing at unprecedented rates. As temperatures increase, sea level rises, and extreme weather events become more frequent, the world’s population will be increasingly affected by flooding. Rising waters already pose a considerable threat in urban areas throughout the globe, endangering coastal communities and causing millions of dollars in damage and repair. Rooted on the environmental variations caused by climate change and its impact on human populations, the paper will reflect upon two traditional measures utilized in the prevention of flooding: the implementation of hard infrastructure projects and the relocation of populations at risk. As the paper will delineate, hard infrastructure projects that have been applied for generations in order to control the forces of water, are currently challenged by the possibility of obsolescence. At the same time, the relocation of families to safer grounds, often defined by financial, physical and political constraints, is called into question for the consequent dismantlement of social groups and the potential abandonment of entire urban settings. Hence the paper argues in favor of a paradigm shift in architecture and planning practices from strengthening boundaries toward establishing a more fluid relationship between water and land. The inevitability of flooding urges architects to consider water as a design element, allowing it to infiltrate the land and to become part of the built environment. To this end, the study evaluates three contemporary housing responses to flooding: the “FLOAT House”, by Morphosis; the “New Aqueous City”, by nARCHITECTS; and the “Turnaround House”, by Nissen Adams LLP. These examples unveil alternative approaches to the inhabitation of floodplains, challenging traditional architectural solutions by incorporating into design the conditions of transition intrinsic to areas affected by flooding.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNature of Spatial Practices: Conference Proceedings
EditorsAli Aslankan, Karen Paiva Henrique, Aparna Parikh
Place of PublicationState College, PA
PublisherPennsylvania State University
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes
EventNature of Spatial Practices - The Pennsylvania State University, State College, United States
Duration: 1 Feb 20131 Feb 2013


ConferenceNature of Spatial Practices
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityState College
Internet address


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