START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good

A Striking Tsunami-Resistant Home

A Striking Tsunami-Resistant Home

As a utilitarian, my love for modern design reaches new heights when it manages to be aesthetically compelling and practical, creating a happy marriage of form and function. All too often, design looks pretty but isn’t as useful — or is highly useful, but isn’t all that attractive. In my constant quest for architecture and design that meet my high standards, I appreciate it when something catches my eye, as is the case with a striking home in Washington State.

Built on Camano Island, the home is situated right in the middle of a tsunami hazard zone on low-lying ground that will also be vulnerable to storm surges, and as recent climate events have shown, we don’t know what lies ahead in the next few years, but it’s probably not good. Thus, the architecture firm wanted to balance the risks of tsunamis with the desire to have a beautiful, open, welcoming custom home that would endure for its owners. These two things don’t usually go together, as tidal waves are notorious for chewing through houses, especially those on low ground that are close to the water.

But this home has a few tricks up its sleeve. For starters, it has an extremely stout concrete foundation, one that can weather both earthquakes and tsunamis better than conventional homes. The two-level design features breakaway walls and elements that allow the energy of a tsunami to quickly dissipate, while leaving the upper walls in good condition. This design is actually quite similar to that utilized in some traditional Japanese homes, which were historically engineered to allow nonstructural walls to harmlessly fall during earthquakes without damaging the rest of the structure. While the home might need some attention from a remodeling company after a major event, it won’t be leveled. The lower-level multipurpose area, the “flood room,” is well below the living space, which is nine feet above grade.

Meanwhile, an array of glorious windows and doors provide lots of natural light to keep the home light-filled and airy, and a stout storm drain maintains excellent drainage across the property. By combining smart design features with extremely durable materials that don’t require a great deal of maintenance, the architecture firm, Designs Northwest Architects, created a home that could stand up to harsh weather and wouldn’t require constant work.

It’s not just the exterior of the home and the underpinnings of the design that are great. The Camano Island House is also great inside, with lots of eco-friendly details including highly flexible open spaces and a warm, inviting interior. This home manages to sit right on the shoreline without being subject to the considerable peril its neighbors experience with every tsunami warning, and it does so with panache.

This kind of smart building for the future is taking hold in numerous communities around the world. Architecture firms and homeowners are recognizing that they need to consider climate issues in home design, including shifts in weather patterns that may be brought on by a changing climate. While tsunamis aren’t subject to human-mediated climate change, rises in sea levels and changes in the severity of regular winter storms are, and thinking ahead to help structures weather these events is smart design and smart living.

It can also be expensive; custom homes are pricey, especially ones with the square footage and elegance of this one. However, as test cases, they prove that taking the time to build durably is worth it, and this provides an incentive to lower costs for people in the housing market who can’t afford the expense of lavish custom homes.

Katie Marks writes for This article originally appeared here.

Photo: Todd Nappen/Flickr

Read more: Crafts & Design, Green Home Decor, Materials & Architecture, , , , , ,

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love

Selections from Networx empowers people to make educated, economical and Earth-friendly renovation and home repair choices. We are a community of homeowners, renters and contractors who are committed to sharing home improvement expertise and experience.


+ add your own
9:13PM PDT on Mar 15, 2014

Doesn't make sense.

7:45AM PST on Mar 8, 2014


9:34PM PST on Feb 24, 2014

Good idea. Thanks.

9:34AM PST on Feb 21, 2014

Sounds like something very few people could afford to build. Thank you for sharing.

12:37PM PST on Feb 10, 2014

Interesting ... thanks

1:51PM PST on Feb 7, 2014


4:24AM PST on Feb 7, 2014

Interesting. Attractive house, but you know, the Titanic was 'unsinkable'....

2:25AM PST on Feb 7, 2014


4:46AM PST on Feb 6, 2014


11:10PM PST on Feb 5, 2014

Too bad folks didn't use this kind of thinking when building decades ago. Also too bad this is not affordable for joe citizen.

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

yippee! this is how catnip makes me feel!

Hahahaha, too cute!

Thanks for good information :)

Better to be happy alone than being unhappy together with someone else. Relationships are great, but…

Story idea? Want to blog? Contact the editors!

Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.