Elizabeth English shares her ideas on amphibious housing in the Wall Street Journal article, Climate-proofing homes for extreme weather ahead.
When floods are not there, an "amphibious" house lives on the land like an ordinary house, but it’s capable, when the flood comes, of staying above the flood by having some source of buoyancy that lifts the occupied parts of the house so that there’s no damage. We could most inexpensively apply this retrofit system to simple wooden houses with a crawl space where we can place the buoyancy elements [like dock floats or foam blocks] that lift the house, such are as common across the Gulf Coast. When you’re doing retrofit, you’re not promoting development. You’re just fixing houses that are vulnerable now and making it possible for communities to continue to live in the places that they’ve always lived and in the ways that they’ve always lived. In the future, people might be able to perform these retrofits for $25,000 or less. There’s currently nothing in the building codes that addresses amphibious construction, and that is a major hurdle in the U.S.—Dr. Elizabeth English, professor of architecture at Canada’s University of Waterloo, and founder and director of the Buoyant Foundation Project, a nonprofit that develops amphibious technologies