Stilt house for flood-prone areas


Believe it or not, the best thing to do with high approaching flood water is, generally, to let it pass through the house. But it cannot be just any house.

This house is the response to the call by the Croatian Chamber of Architects to licensed architects, asking them to volunteer to propose concept designs for replacement houses for the areas devastated in the 2014 floods in Croatia.

This concept design does not take into account the elements of the design brief that are seen as inadequate responses to the (questionable) intention of the Croatian Government to build replacement houses on the spot of devastated houses, i.e. where there is still great danger of future floods.

Unofficial data mentions flood heights of 3m in some of the flooded settlements. Responsible planning includes being ready for greater heights because climate changes cause increasingly big spring torrents.

The most detailed publicly available document found that contains guidelines for building in flood-prone areas within the developed-country standards can be found at and was consulted in the making of this design.

All of this has resulted in these design principles:

The house shall be on stilts in order to complete preserve the living spaces in the case of smaller floods.

Above the ground floor with stilts, the house shall have a first floor and an attic. The attic can fit the occupants and their belongings in the case of extremely severe floods.

Water shall be allowed to pass through the house in the event of a flood because it is not justifiable to make a complex and expensive perimeter building shell which would prevent the ingress of water and sustain the enormous pressure. The ground floor must not be enclosed, and the first floor must contain flaps for water to enter and leave.

Structures and materials shall be water resistant, keep the water out, and be easily dried.

In the (very likely) event of a flood, the house shall be able to function independently until the supply of electricity and mainiline water is established.

Treatment of grey water and faecal waste shall pose minimal jeopardy to the hygiene in the event of a flood, as well as at other times.

The house shall fit into the existing pattern of long plots in rows on each side of the village road. The assumed orientation of the plot is east-west.

Many of these principles are valid in general deliberation about building in the context of sustainable management of resources and environment, as well as the sustainble economy of household, local communities and the society in general.