Date Published: August 04th, 2022
Written by: Sean Nino Lotze, edited by Maitri Fischer
Some of these building tips and design principles were developed in collaboration between Mantra our partnering Architects and design firms like Ibuku, Studio Jenquel, Alexis Dornier and Stilt Studios.
The growth of mega cities and heavy urbanisation is destroying our planet, and it concerns all of us. City planning and construction are no longer the preserve of specialists, as the biggest decisions must be made by society and the village and district communities at large.
The depressing realities of design, building, and construction in South East Asia follow ill-advised planning decisions that are creating flood plains, urban heat sinks, and grey dead environments that allow water to flood and not infiltrate the grounds.
We must escape the inevitable fate and terminal dysfunction of our urban environments. We must build garden cities and garden villages – and we should begin with some easy building principles to plan for the rains.
“1. Building on Stilts- Building on elevated stilts helps the water run beneath the house allowing it to absorb into the ground. It prevents moisture from coming up through the floors and causes the structures to dampen. It breaks the direct moisture connection to the ground and allows the building to dry out. Building on stilts promotes more airflow and the building performs as a better passive building. Check out some of Woha’s publications and how they are building skyscrapers on stilts and elevations, building the first 2 stories as an open and public space, with trees, gardens, cafes, and with rainfall and flood strategies. A gamechanger for South East Asian city design.
2. Rainwater Harvesting– As intense rains followed by longer droughts become more common with global warming, rainwater harvesting is a smart investment for buildings to become more self-sufficient. Buildings can reduce their dependence on groundwater by up to 50% simply by harvesting and filtering rainwater for potable water needs.
3. More Permeable Surface- Having more unpaved surface area allows rainwater to trickle back down into the local water table. Concrete prevents this natural recharge of groundwater and encourages flooding. Natural ecosystems with healthy flora and carbon-rich top soils with plants and trees act as a sponge, retaining stormwater and slowly releasing it over time, effectively acting as a buffer against floods.
4. More Trees and Vegetation– So simple but so effective, planting more local trees and vegetation around the house supports more rainwater absorption. Water-sensitive ‘rain gardens’ often help intercept stormwater, improve drainage and safely redirect water.
5. Efficient Roofing- Designing roofs at appropriate angles promote water to quickly flow off the roof. Use resilient materials and design the roofs keeping waterproofing membranes or moisture barriers below the tiles/roof material as a final protection against roof failures like cracked tiles”
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