Tuesday, 8 February 2011

How would you build

a house in an area prone to flooding, or cyclones or bushfires or severe snowstorms? How would you supply power to them?
I have been pondering this of late, not because I plan to build a house but because it seems to me that other people should be thinking about these things.
There was, at last, one letter in this morning's paper about the possible wisdom of putting power lines underground instead of having them strung on poles overhead. Now that seems like a very sensible idea. I can only assume that it was assumed to be cheaper to put them overhead rather than underground. That would seem to be a false economy now that so many of them need replacing. True you cannot get to them underground in a flood - but it seems you cannot get to them overground either.
Bushfires have started because of overheard power lines. That seems like another good reason. Then there is the issue of what South Australians call "stobie" poles. These are the concrete and steel poles used to carry the power lines - designed to overcome the problem with white ants eating the wooden poles. Stobie poles have been a blessing and a curse - people claim they are the cause of accidents. What they mean of course is that someone has hit one because it happens to be there.
So power is a problem but it would seem to be one that could be relatively easily solved. If we are to have a National Broadband Network then it seems that the two things should be done together. That would be too logical.
The other problem however seems to be the way we build houses. My father wonders constantly at the number of new houses built without eaves. He asked a builder about this and was told that "this is what people want". In our climate it would seem sensible to at least have eaves. It would surely be cooler in summer? There are also basics like insulation and perhaps double glazing.
These things also assume that we go on building houses as we have been, with angular walls and a slanting roof. They are not cyclone proof or flood proof and they do little to combat the heat of summer.
So I have been wondering if we should build houses a different shape altogether? What if we built houses in the shape of an umbrella but without the handle or a mushroom without the stalk? Imagine a curved surface over which the force of a cyclone flows rather than a flat wall which it hits. Would it work?
I do not know enough about physics. I know nothing about architecture or design but I keep wondering whether we could design very different houses and learn to live comfortably in them.


Anonymous said...

You could have a toadstool sort of house - and roof which was red with white spots. Chris

Rachel Fenton said...

I'd be ringing a school of architecture and asking - maybe suggesting some design projects - maybe rallying around to get a pot of prize money together for such an award winning design and then some press coverage...start somewhere..

Anonymous said...


I think the toadstool would need the sten if it was in a cyclone/surge/flood area to keep it out of harms way!

Judy B

catdownunder said...

I was wondering about some sort of moat or drainage system Judy