5 Amphibious Houses Built to Survive the Coming Floods

In case you haven’t heard by now, continued climate change means we’ll soon be living in a very wet world.

A few months ago, the Federal Emergency Management Agency released a report that said rising sea levels and increasingly severe weather will lead to a 45 percent increase in the areas of the U.S. at risk for floods by 2100. More recently, a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), found that “that sea level could rise by more than three feet by the end of the century if carbon emissions keep growing at a runaway pace,” bringing average global flood losses to $60 to $63 billion per year by 2050.

Since more Hurricane Sandys are almost definitely in our future, many designers are exploring “amphibious” design concepts for a world that’s partially underwater. The way we’ve built homes and office buildings for the past 100 years isn’t going to cut it. We need structures that can respond to quickly changing weather in a way that will save loves and reduce property damages.

In case you thought the words “amphibious” and “house” were mutually exclusive, we’ve rounded up five of the most promising of these flood-proof designs for your consideration:

1. Bamboo Floating House

Floating Bamboo Houses H&P ArchitectsImage: H&P Architects

Low-income families in developing countries have the most to lose from coastal flooding. For those in South East Asia, seasonal flooding is already a reality, creating unsafe, unsanitary conditions and destroying many homes in the process. This design, by H&P Architects, is made from low-cost bamboo and features oil drums in the base of each building. These drums provide buoyancy for the already light-weight material. “Each house is anchored to the ground with four steel rods, with the oil drums serving as the base that the house sits on. When the rains come, the house rises on its rods, stopping it [from] washing away,” reports Phaidon.

2. Winston Land-Locked Floating House

Winston Land-Locked Floating HouseImage: Winston International

Not everyone lives in a bamboo house. That’s why Winston International has created the Landlocked Floating House. Using a system composed of telescoping piers set in concrete anchors, the system supports a catamaran floatation base attached to one, two or three story buildings. The system means that the house is capable of rising above any recorded flood, and will float back to its original position as the flood recedes.

3. House On The Water

House on the WaterImage: Formodesign

As the name implies, this is a house designed to spend its life in the water. This self-sufficient 2 family home features a cantilevered design that includes an integrated floating dock (which rises and falls with tide levels), desalination water treatment system and technologies that harvest both tidal and solar energy. According to Forbes, and unlike others mentioned in the list so far, this house actually exists!

4. Floating Pre-Fab Neighborhood

Floating Pre-Fab Neighbohood NetherlandsImage: Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer

In nations already familiar with the problems caused by flooding, such as the Netherlands, the concept of floating houses has been taken to the neighborhood level. “Using docks as sidewalks and the IJ Lake as a backyard,” this neighborhood of 75 dwellings “is a large-scale adaptive development,” reports Inhabitat. “Each house starts as a concrete tub which is then built up three stories with a metal frame… One to three homes are built in a single tub, with the lowest floor situated halfway below the water level.”

5. Pearl – Eco Open Seas Houseboat

Pearl Floating HouseboatImage: Orhan Cileli

If you’re starting to think that people living in houseboats might be a few years ahead of the game, you’re right. Traditional houseboats don’t have the ability to navigate the open sea, however. Inspired by the shape and buoyancy of a fishing bobber, The Pearl is designed to handle even sizeable waves. It also features a deck, greenhouse and solar and wave harvesting technologies.

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Lead image credit: Orhan Cileli


Manuela B.
Manuela B4 years ago

I could handle living in some of these houses.....

JOSE honrado5 years ago

The suggestions are good.

Paul B.
Paul B5 years ago

How do you handle sewage, without polluting the environment, electricity, running water, etc. Especially on the telescoping landlocked floating house.

The concepts are great, interesting and fun, but the "details" of actually making them livable and usable still need to be defined.

Earlier in life, I considered getting a house boat parked on a local lake, but never happened.

Carrie-Anne Brown

already signed, thanks for sharing :)

Russell H.
Russell H.5 years ago

Fun exciting new work, love Netherlands floating sub division - great for higher end retirement market in Florida, great place to retire but having home washed out when you're 75 is tough, and retirees don't need HUGE houses, living 3 or 4 or even 8 households to a barge easily done - helping spread the cost of that floating infrastructure.

However, outside of niche high end markets, adding to the cost of floating buildings only makes housing more expensive and less accessible to half the population in the US, and in it's own way, beyond most in the underdeveloped world also (where most might only afford found (free) materials.

Having spent a bit of time in flood zones and seen the lengths, and costs people go to trying to live where they shouldn't I'd suggest this as the maximum effort that can supported economically:
1. Raising building one story for parking / storage / screened and shaded play area, etc,
2. A "sacrifical" second story that could be inundated and easily cleaned and repaired
3. A third floor "safe" from all flooding and wave action where everything from below could be stored in times of flood.

After Hurricanes Irene and Lee hit upstate NY I posted a raft (Ha Ha) of ideas along these ideas to help folks adapt inexpensively at roughdesigns . com.

Perhaps in underdeveloped countries the effort should be to make structures that can survive inundation and be easily cleaned and put back into use - think concrete, or buildings with swinging / lif

Dale O.

Some people will say 'Whatever floats your boat.' Perhaps one day we can all say 'Whatever floats your house.'

Marianne C, regarding your earlier comment to John M...what about all those 'pennies between the knees' that John M always carries around on his boat to fling at us when he tells people to practice 'abstinence and to keep a penny between the knees?' It appears that he has so many of these pennies that 'the pennies for his thoughts' cargo will sink both of his ships before he can even reach 'the high ground'! Careful John M, loose lips sink ships!

Dale O.

I like the bamboo house although it may be no fun in a tropical storm and number five is delightful. I know someone who believes that climate change is 'left wing propaganda'. Ron B, your idea makes sense but don’t expect many Republicans, teabaggers and the right wing across the globe to swallow a few doses of common sense. (That too is seen as a left wing plot). Marianne C, perhaps the car in the garage is one of those amphibious cars.


Yvette T, becoming ‘organic vegan’ is not going to end climate change any more than it is going to end drought, TB, war, pestilence or the common cold. By the way, rain forests are also cut down for the mono-culture of plants…pineapples, palm oil. What will you do about the fact that animals in the wild also excrete in or near water? Outlaw them? Some people avoid eating factory farmed meat and buy organic be it meat and or veggies.

Jan Simon
.5 years ago

thank you

paula eaton
paula eaton5 years ago

Pretty neat.

JL A5 years ago

Makes me think of all the law suits and laws enacted in FL and elsewhere to try to forbid houseboats as residences...