Margot Krasojević Architecture, ‘Self-Excavation Hurricane House’, Louisiana

The hurricane house is located near the Louisiana coastline; an area that has a history of hurricanes and their destructive effects. It is noted that hurricanes twist around the eye of the storm, always in the same direction (anticlockwise for those originating in the northern hemisphere and clockwise for those in the south).

To determine the design criteria, the nature of hurricanes was considered. The scheme uses the hurricane’s strength to slowly turn part of the structure along its helicoid retaining wall, burying itself as it turns by using wind direction to mobilise its hydraulic pivots.

For this house to withstand environmental loads like winds it must be flexible enough to move with the hurricane, yet provide enough resistance and weight, to dig itself into its own excavated engineered landscape. The house has a main superstructure, which holds the living accommodation, and can move along a helicoid retaining wall, excavating as it does so. The building’s core is a reinforced concrete anchor under which a grid of rootlike cable foundations spread. Pinned into the landscape, this anchor supports the superstructure by using a series of hydraulic column lifts, which pivot to turn the building, excavating its own substructure as the main living area moves.

The architecture is choreographed by the wind direction of the hurricane, turning with it. The excavated ground is pushed away, while the artificial island surrounding the building acts as a canopy moving water away from the house. Solar panels line the island’s floor plate panels, and it is edged by a ring of turbines. The turntable design acts as an irrigation field, directing rain and floodwater away from the building. The force of the hurricane does not allow extreme pressure to build up as it skims over and around the entire building, deflecting the force as the scheme twists.

Judges’ Comments

‘’For every action there is a corresponding equal and opposite reaction, which appears to be the meme behind this intriguing future house that digs itself securely into the terrain during a hurricane. The judges were mesmerised by the three dimensional imagery and the idea that the house foundations might spin around like a whirling dervish during a storm, boring and anchoring the structure securely into the terrain. We would love to hear if the completed project fulfils its special storm proofing  function in the future, whilst at the same time hoping it never has to.’’