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.
When not working in design, Sarah Rich writes, talks and forecasts about food and consumer culture.