Can this smart design disaster-proof the most affected areas?

Last year in May a magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit the northern Thailand province of Chiang Rai. Devestation followed, including the destruction of 73 schools and the displacement of over 2000 students.

Following the disaster, charity group Design for Disasters began rebuilding efforts in the area.

Thai architects Vin Varavarn Architects jumped on board for the project and began design work on the Baan Huay Sarn Yaw School.

The shockproof school was designed using bamboo and steal, both light and strong, allowing for earthquake resistant building techniques to take centre stage.

The use of light-weight building materials helps to reduce horizontal momentum caused by earthquake activity and provide a safe haven for students.

Bamboo shelving along both sides of the building provides a welcoming atmosphere and a helpful learning environment.

“The flower pots represent our message to remind the children that in spite of the harsh and cruel realities of caused by natural disasters, nature can also bring them beauty and joy to every day of their lives,” say the architects. The shelving also doubles as safety measures to prevent children from falling in the event of an earthquake.

Built with local materials  and at a cost-effective price, the initiative is hoping to rebuild schools across Thailand and extend their model to other at-risk areas around the world.

A house for all seasons

Architect Todd Fix has designed the concept for a house that changes shape depending on the weather.

“Motus” is a smart house. Designed with the idea of creating a sustainable, green, zero-energy home, Fix and his team wanted to remove themselves from a the typical ‘Passivhaus’ design, which works off solar energy to prevent energy-loss.

Instead of using materials that would typically assist in keeping energy in the home, ‘Motus’ is surrounded in glass. This glass isn’t your run of the mill window glass though. Depending on the light, the time of day or the temperature, the materials adapt to create a response that works to minimise energy usage.

For example, to adapt to sunlight, the glass will turn on a sun-blocking shade or to adapt to cooler temperatures it will activate an insulating shell.

“It provides this flexible control over heat gain from sunlight,” architect Todd Fix told Fast Company. “So if it’s a cold day, the sensor will sense that, and it will close both to keep the heat inside. If you want more light in the space, you can open up the screen or open up the shell.”

The house is powered by a set of solar panels and a “microclimate pool” that sits underneath the house, using evaporation to cool the house on hot days.

The house, that ranges from 5,000 to 12,000 square feet, depending on configuration, is designed to be best suited for beachfront locations in temperate climates.

However, this smart design doesn’t come cheap. Prepare for a construction cost of between $3.5 and $10 million.

If price was no object, would you like to live in an adaptable, zero-energy home?