Throwing Houses Into the Air
In recent years, we have seen a number of unique engineering efforts aiming to design homes that will better protect occupants in the event of natural disasters.
The Float House in New Orleans designed for Brad Pitt’s Make it Right Foundation project – a house which can literally break away from its moorings in the event of a flood and rise up to 12 feet on two guideposts – is one such example. An elastic iron alloy, designed by researchers at Japan’s Tohoku University to sway with an earthquake, is another.
The latest such effort, coming from Japanese firm Air Danshin Systems Inc., involves protecting houses from earthquakes by literally tossing them into the air or, at the very least, using a levitation system to raise them by up to three centimetres in the event of a tremor.
It works fairly simply, and requires only basic – albeit powerful – equipment. Within one second of an earthquake, a sensor turns on a compressor which in turn forces a huge amount of air under the building, pushing the structure upwards and separating it from its foundation by up to 3cm. An indoor valve keeps the structure steady as it ‘floats’ by controlling the flow of air under the house. The concept, some say, is akin to having an airbag for a house.
Once the quake is over, the house gently falls back onto an earthquake-resistant reinforced concrete foundation....