Designing Water-Safe Buildings

Most cities are in river valleys and coastal plains, and most buildings are in these cities. A consequence of this is that a frightfully high proportion of buildings are likely to be in the water at some point, the result of storms, climate trends, tsunamis, and broken pipes. It is something of a mistake, then, that buildings are designed on the assumption that they will remain above water. The work of reclaiming a building from flooding can be nearly as expensive as the original construction, yet this cost could be greatly reduced with changes in the design of buildings so that they tolerate water better.

In no particular order, these are some of the design themes that represent weak points in a building when it comes in contact with water:

The added costs of these adjustments are minor when compared to the costs of restoring a building after a flooding event, not to mention the potential for loss of life when buildings come down in a flood. When you look at buildings located in places that can expect to flood every 25 years, or more often, there is little reason to stay with the traditional building designs that aren’t designed for a world that also contains water.

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