Student Design Project Pays Off in Unexpected Ways - Floating Houses?

Virginian Pilot Photo by David B. Hollingsworth

Virginian Pilot Photo by David B. Hollingsworth

Snapshot: In a newly inundated environment, we need new approaches, including trying out houses that float! One of our former student partners in the Collaboratory is continuing his innovative design work with a floating house proposal to deal with flooding in coastal Virginia. Willie Parks, the architect involved, is a local fellow from increasingly soggy Pungo in Virginia Beach and one of the students leaders on our project in Chesterfield Heights. Exciting to see this.

Backstory: A regional hub of innovative ideas, Global Shapers Norfolk, is looking at a novel solution to the problem of frequently flooded houses….houses that float above the rising tides. This novel idea involves an old friend of ours, Willie Parks, an architect working locally with RRMM Architects. Parks is no stranger to resilience design, having been a leader in the first resilience design efforts in Virginia.

In the fall of 2014, Wetlands Watch partnered with a team of architecture students from Hampton University and engineering students from Old Dominion University in the historic community of Chesterfield Heights in Norfolk, Virginia, to see if we could come up with designs to flood proof that community. That award-winning project went on to earn a $120 million grant to revitalize the Ohio Creek Watershed. The work was a partnership involving Wetlands Watch, Virginia Sea Grant, Hampton University (Professor Mason Andrews), Old Dominion University (Professor Mujde Erten-Unal), Green Building Council-Hampton Roads, and numerous individual collaborators. It was the start of the Collaboratory, funded by the Adiuvans Foundation, to continue this work to match knowledge to need in solving our resilience problems.

One of the goals of this work is to expose emerging professionals in the novel challenges that sea level rise and frequent flooding bring to coastal regions. Parks and Global Shapers are taking that challenge to new heights, above the rising tides. We wish them luck and congratulate Willie Parks.