DOI: 10.3390/su16031069 ISSN: 2071-1050

Amphibious Architecture: A Biomimetic Design Approach to Flood Resilience

Hope Ameh, Lidia Badarnah, Jessica Lamond
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Building and Construction

Amphibious buildings use the buoyancy principle in the design of their foundation systems to mitigate flood impact. In some cases, amphibious buildings are fitted with mechanical systems that further aid the buoyancy element to temporarily raise the building and guide its descent to natural ground level. These mechanical systems require external operation, preventing the amphibious building from passively responding during flood events as is one of the requirements of a robust flood mitigation measure. Additionally, buildings in flood environments are often left with stains on the exterior facade from floodwater contamination from sewage and chemicals, among others. This paper distinguishes three main components of an amphibious foundation: the buoyancy element, vertical guidance post, and structural sub-frame, and discusses their functionality. The natural world provides solutions to tackling environmental issues such as flooding. When systematically studied and transferred, nature can inspire innovative ideas for functional and sustainable designs for the built environments. Although there are many existing designs and a small number of constructed amphibious buildings, there are very few studies that discuss how the designs are derived, and even fewer on a framework emulating natural systems for transfer into amphibious building design. In that context, this research uses the biomimetic transfer process to abstract relevant biological systems, illustrating their potential for transfer into amphibious foundation design. The aim is to understand how these biological systems passively and continuously respond and adapt to their environment. Organisms such as the Venus flower basket, giant kelp, and red mangrove, among others, are discussed, to understand how they perform the identified functions. The steps of the biomimetic transfer process are used to integrate functions of amphibious buildings and processes of the studied biological systems. The final output of this paper is a discussion of the ways in which these derived relationships can be adopted in amphibious building design.

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