Meet “Project: Smart Home,” a flood-responsive home that can be built and adapted into flood-prone parts of Metro Manila
While the effects of flooding grow more serious as each year passes, developers are forced to remedy the situation by thinking out of the box and innovating home designs to suit the needs of homeowners.
Such a need became clear for Filipinos when Typhoon Ondoy struck in 2009, causing damage across Metro Manila and neighboring provinces as torrential rains flooded entire cities and submerged areas in as much as 10 feet of floodwater. Since then, Metro Manila has seen the worsening effects of floods have had on people and property.
While working on his first home project in 2009, Philippine Realty TV (PRTV) Executive Producer John Aguilar saw the magnitude of the widespread devastation the floodwaters of Typhoon Ondoy did to the homes of his relatives living in Marikina and other cities. Aguilar’s house-in-progress was almost damaged if not for the fact that it was sitting on a higher area.
“I may not have experienced [the impact of Typhoon Ondoy] first-hand, but I tried to imagine all the people who…have to rebuild their homes and their lives every time they were hit by floods,” says Aguilar.
“At PRTV, we try to showcase new innovations and ideas in the real estate and construction industry, and that got us thinking: why not design and build a house that is responsive to the plight of many of those living in flood-prone areas?”
An Inspired Bahay Kubo
“We came up with Project: Smart Home,” shares Aguilar, which is the idea of a flood-responsive home that will not just be built and shown on the show, but which will showcase a design that can be adapted into other flood-prone parts of Metro Manila.
They partnered with architectural firm Buensalido + Architects to design a flood-responsive home, one which uses innovative and out of-the-box ideas that would help homes withstand and respond to flooding situations such as the Typhoon Ondoy incident.
For its initial design, the Smart Home was inspired by the traditional Filipino home—the bahay kubo. “We used the concept of a bahay kubo. Since the first floors are the first thing hit when floodwaters rise, we made sure that our homes are designed to start from the second floor up,” shares Aguilar.
Each Smart Home consists of a three-story townhome. The first floor has a space for cars, a covered portion that can be converted into a storage space or used as a space to entertain guests, a small pocket garden, and the stairs leading to the main entryway of the home. Instead of a communal area, the bedrooms are located on the second floor while the living room, and dining and kitchen area on the top-most floor.
According to Aguilar, the open-space of the communal area is where those who are stranded can stay together while awaiting rescue. These areas, he adds, are usually the places that will house the most expensive appliances and electronics, like the television and refrigerator, so keeping it on the top-most floor safeguards it best from severe flood situations.
“In addition, one of the problems we noticed during Ondoy was that people who were stranded on their roofs had no access to food and water because [their kitchens] were already flooded,” Aguilar adds. “With the kitchen on the top-most floor, residents who are stranded will still have access to food and water, as it is the least likely place that flood waters will reach.”
But among the features that differentiate the Smart Home from normal townhomes, the most interesting are its two floating platforms: the floating carport and the Regenerative Amphibious Floating Terraces (RAFT).
The floating carport is a platform that sits on the parking area. In the event of a flood, this structure is designed to float with and above the rising waters, keeping one’s car above floodwaters. The RAFT, on the other hand, is a floating balcony connected to the second level. It can be detached from the house, float should flood waters rise, and thus helping residents move to safety.
Architecture needs to respond to communities, building infrastructure that consider the need to adapt to natural disaster situations.
“Most people would imagine building a floating house as a deterrent against floods,” shares Aguilar. “However, that kind of design can be costly and not very practical for most people. Through Project Smart Home, we found a way to integrate the idea of floatation platforms to currently existing parts of the home to come up with a climate-adaptive real estate model that effectively responds to a rapidly changing world.”
Aside from the flood-adaptive features, Aguilar also utilized a different technology for the walls, using Panel Systems that contain an EPS core—more commonly known as styrofoam—to insulate the home from heat coming from direct sunlight. This allows the house to retain a generally cooler indoor temperature, akin to that of an icebox. Solar panels and LED lighting were also utilized to keep the carbon footprint of the Smart Home to a minimum.
“What we’re doing with our project is we’re injecting technology and innovation into home designs, using these kind of out-of-the-box ideas to help make homes in the country more flood and climate-responsive,” says Aguilar. “We can’t wait to see how homes across the Philippines can adapt our ideas, and how this kind of change can affect the country’s responsiveness to drastic changes in our climate.”
Main photo via Philippine Realty TV