The LIFT House: An amphibious strategy for sustainable and affordable housing for the urban poor in flood-prone Bangladesh
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Bangladesh is known for two things: poverty and floods. It is a delta country burdened with draining large amounts of water from surrounding countries and a heavy monsoon season that have caused numerous severe floods with large scale destruction throughout the country. Rapid urbanization and migration have put an immense pressure on the urban centres. Dhaka, the capital city and the largest urban centre of the country, is struggling to provide adequate housing and basic services for the urban poor who are forced to find accommodation in the flood-prone slums and squatter settlements of the city. The alarming rate of population growth further aggravates the problem of environmental degradation which in turn causes more severe floods. As one of the most vulnerable countries for climate change, Bangladesh must work towards providing flood-resilient, safe and affordable housing for all its citizens. My response was the LIFT (Low Income Flood-proof Technology) House: an affordable, flood-resilient housing solution for the low income families of Dhaka. The LIFT house consists of two amphibious structures that are capable of adapting to rising water levels. The amphibious structures float up on buoyant foundations during floods, and return to ground level when water recedes. It is a sustainable, environmentally friendly house that provides all basic services to its residents without connection to the city service systems, through the use of indigenous materials and local skills. This thesis documents the research, design, and construction of the LIFT house with funding provided by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The LIFT house was completed on January 2010 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and has become a symbol for the city’s desire to provide sustainable, low-cost accommodations that are protected from floods.