The Make It Right Foundation has gotten loads of press over the last few years, thanks in large part to its ultra-celebrity founder, as well as the numerous famous architects who've invested their time and skills into this large scale rebuilding effort in New Orleans' 9th Ward. The most recent bit of news out of MIR is the debut of the FLOAT House, a prototype designed by Thom Mayne and Morphosis Architects, engineered to withstand Katrina-level floods.
The FLOAT House is a modern rendition of the traditional shotgun building typology, standard throughout New Orleans. The relatively small 945-square-foot home sits on an elevated foundation, with all of the rooms aligned end-to-end, creating a long, narrow floorplan. What makes this house unique from older, more conventional shotgun homes—and in fact unique from almost any residential building you could find in this country—is its ability to become a virtual raft in the event of a storm. Fitted with a glass-reinforced concrete "chassis" and fixed to two tall guideposts, the entire building can rise up to 12 vertical feet without damage or displacement.
The project also takes into account sustainable design with features. The net-zero building have roof-mounted solar and solar electric storage beneath the house, a rainwater collection system, high-efficiency and low-water interior appliances and fixtures, and a geothermal ground source heat pump that reduces the need for A/C. While designed for New Orleans context in terms of the vernacular and the history of hurricanes, the prototype is meant to be an affordable prefab housing solution for other flood-prone areas of the world.