Hurricane Resilient “Sure House” Designed

For many years now, architecture has been more than just creating places to dwell in. It has evolved into something that is responsive to the environment and the various challenges that nature throws at it. The advances in technology have led to new building methodologies and materials that have helped us in making much more energy efficient structures that have the potential to stand the test of time.

Keeping that in mind the students of Stevens Institute of Technology who recently took part in Solar Decathlon, an international biannual competition, have designed the hurricane resilient SURE HOUSE. The goal of this competition is to encourage people to come up with new and innovative ways forward into the world of energy-efficient and solar powered residential architecture. The prestigious competition chose only 20 teams to compete this year which makes it an honor for Stevens, for whom this was their third consecutive entry.

The Inspiration:

The design idea came from the destruction that Hurricane Sandy caused in coastal New Jersey, in which the Stevens campus was also damaged. The SURE HOUSE is designed to survive a 100 year storm, which is the term given to a storm that has a chance of occurring once every 100 years.

The Team:

The Stevens team consisted of 40 students from a number of disciplines from engineers and architects to business, science, music majors. The reason for this diversity was that they needed to approach the design from multiple perspectives. The students worked on structural design, wall designs, as well as new systems for ventilation and humidity control based on their disciplines.

The Design:

In order to design the hurricane resilient SURE HOUSE, the team worked hand in hand with some major New York stakeholders, as it is part of a larger research enterprise at the university. FEMA’s flood maps after Sandy helped the students better understand what they needed to do.

The SURE HOUSE has many energy-efficient features as well as hurricane resilient ones;

  • The basic framework of the house is of steel.
  • An extra foot of height is added to act as a buffer against floods.
  • Solar energy will be used to power the house.
  • Innovative systems are used to control humidity which makes use of chemical engineering to separate vapor from air by the use of salt compounds.

The Construction:

The Stevens students are to build the SURE HOUSE on one of Hudson River’s campus lots, for an expected cost of somewhere between $300,000 and $325,000. It will then be showcased at the competition in Irvine in 2015. It is supposed to be placed somewhere on the Jersey Shore after the competition where it will be inhabited.

The design by the Stevens team opens new doors into the world of sustainable architecture. The recent floods and storms have left many parts of the world crippled and damaged. It makes sense to design such houses that are resilient to hurricanes like the SURE HOUSE. We may not be able to thwart natural disasters or keep them from happening but we can definitely try and improve our residential and commercial structures in order to keep both our lives and properties safe.

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