With the rash of devastating global floods in recent years, it is worth asking the difficult questions, like: what if a town or city finds itself partially underwater for the long haul? How do we begin to build in such an apocalyptic scenario? Flood-proof shelters are essential, yet they’re very hard to come by.

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flood-proof floating shelters

Environmental design student Mike Reyes wrote into Dornob with his design idea – an ingenious system of prefabricated, flat-pack units that can be deployed after disasters … suspended from the sides of buildings, hanging from bridges and more.


Sao Paulo – his target city – is not new to flooding. Sometimes people die, and in many cases residents are displaced. In an extreme enough situation, many may find themselves permanently homeless.

flood favelas in sao paulo

These are often people living in shanty towns who cannot afford to simply ‘move up the latter’, literally or metaphorically. In fact, it’s estimated that 20 percent of the city’s population live in shanty towns, which adds up to almost two million people with nowhere to go in an emergency. For people without cars, evacuating is not always the answer.

flood-proof shelter deployment

The series of structures proposed here addresses the situation by adding onto skyscrapers and residential towers that survive such an event (in a rather parasitic fashion) simply by virtue of being tall enough.

flood-proof shelters in place

Scrap materials can be quickly assembled and attached as relief shelters. Subjective elements of experience are not ignored either – wall panels are designed for posting anything from art to emergency messages, also reflecting the already-eclectic visual nature of this bustling cityscape.

flood-proof shelter diagram

The level of resolution is impressive – the entire installation process is considered, as well as the source of construction materials and structural issues that could arise from adding weight to existing buildings.?Whether it would ever be implemented is hard to say, but there is nothing like a crises to send building codes out the window, so to speak, and make ad hoc solutions the only recourse.