Orla Studios: Modern Homes in the Landscape

Modern homes are particularly suited to a landscape setting. Large areas of glazing, extended overhangs, long decks, indoor outdoor living opportunities. The massing hugging the contours of the site also lend to a beautiful resolution of the design challenge we are faced with when a client contacts us to design and build a house.

Cedar soffited overhangs:

In the northern hemisphere, large overhangs facing south shade living areas from summer heat when the sun is high in the sky overhead. Notice how the concrete deck floats over the landscape

Brett Boardman Photography

© Denilson Machado - MCA Estudio


This modern house has sliding glass walls that open the living room to the outdoors, and the wood ceiling featured inside, continues through to the exterior of the house. #ModernHouse #WoodCeiling

carney logan burke

Love the large cedar soffits on steel columns

Connecticut bon vivant

Slim sightlines, floor to ceiling glass.

This home has exposed cedar ceilings and wood doors which slide back to create a seamless transition between the pool area and the family living areas. The contrast between the limestone pavers and the warmer wood decking draws the eye from the entrance.

When lit at night, the accents of wood and black framed windows create a backdrop for family and friends to gather at this home in Texas.

Orla Huq

Orla Studios Guide to the Dark Side: Exterior Black Paints

Whether working on a midcentury renovation, a new modern house or a traditional home with a lot of character, a dark facade brings a lot of gorgeous impact to the neighborhood!


Vingt House

1. Farrow and Ball:

off black

Farrow & Ball Off-Black No. 57

This was one of the first paints in the Farrow and Ball collection and has a lot of soft grey layers so lovely on a traditional project!

la negitaLa Negrita

2. BM jet black

Benjamin Moore jet black 2120-10 | Paint colors, Exterior paint ...

This is a flat black and is very close to the current Fleetwood black on Fleetwood windows and doors so if you want a seamless look on a modern project using Fleetwood like the one above with the doors and walls very similar, Jet Black is a good option for you.


3. BM Racoon Fur

Benjamin Moore. Raccoon Fur - Google Search (This or the BM ...

This has a lot of warm grey tones to it. More like a very dark grey than a black but with no brown. Sophisticated.

Little Black Houses - Image via Houzz

4. BM Wrought Iron

Trim for around the windows on front | Benjamin moore paint ...

A deep dark grey reminiscent of the look of all those London guardrails in Kensington on a rainy day.

Modern Design Inspiration: Black HousesStudio Joseph

5. BM Black. Yep. Intense darkness.

Black Iron 2120-20 | Benjamin Moore

Why Are So Many Modern Houses Black?

6. BM Iron Mountain

Really a warm grey, one of the most popular BM dark greys.

Iron Mountain 2134-30 | Benjamin Moore


7. This beautiful finish is actually a charred larch wood. Hundreds of years ago, Japanese woodworkers prolonged the life of wood by charring the surface using fire, resulting in shou sugi ban. Very popular option for a dark facade. Expensive.

Koto Design - Architect designed prefab homes and cabins in the UK ...


9. BM Midsummer night.

Midsummer Night 2134-20 | Benjamin Moore

A rich and dramatic very dark brown black, perfect for a vacation home in the mountains.

tham videgard



#exteriorpaints #exteriorarchitecture

Orla Huq

Orla Studios-Master Closet Inspiration:

For couples starting out with dreams of large two car garages with two cars and some garden tools…the baby needs for the first year will take the first bite out of that concrete vastness and gradually the cars will end up in their new permanent home…. the driveway, because your freshman needed to learn the drums!

We are more attached to our clothes, sports equipment and memories then we think so it is really important and more fun to plan enough organized storage in your new house when it is still on the drawing board.

In phase one of all things storage we will look at your Master Closet:

Here are some gorgeous inspiration storage spaces and questions for you to help the process:

Master Closet:

  1. Open or Closed: Do you like your clothes and shoes visible or hidden behind cleanly designed doors?



Mission Hall by Adam Richards Architects


Or a third option: dark glass doors


Dreamy Walk-In Closet Ideas

Dreamy Walk-In Closet Ideas


Dreamy Walk-In Closet Ideas

Dreamy Walk-In Closet Ideas

2. How many drawers do you need? Take stock of accessories, lingerie, socks

Walk-In Closets. Large or small, a walk-in closet is a room all its own. A high-quality door and drawers, installed accessories, finishes, lighting, and layout options create a custom-designed and organized space that is a joy to use every day. #walk #in #closet #ideas

3. Would you like to have space for a small chair or seating area?

Café Design | Design Crush – Sims Hilditch

Dressing room with window seat and roman shades. Fabric is by Kravet. #Dressingroom Elizabeth Metcalfe


4. How much shoe storage do you need?

Dreamy Walk-In Closet Ideas

modern-walk-in-closet-design-for-master-bedroom-design-ideas modern-walk-in-closet-design-for-master-bedroom-design-ideas

5. How much other shelving do you need?

The true definition of luxury. Walk-in closets never fail to add a dose of luxury to a home. ◾ Check our website at or just click on the image to discover our unique luxury furniture pieces. ◾◾ Portuguese craftsmanship and outstanding materials - different aesthetics – luxury lifestyles - interior ideas - interior design – walk in closet - interior furniture – luxury furniture - exclusive design #designideas #luxurylifestyle #designtrends #luxuryhome #interiodesign #homefurniture

6. It’s really nice to have a full length mirror in your closet if you plan ahead, ok this one is super generous but we love the concept!

7. Make up station is a lovely idea if space available

Simple Additions for Major Improvements vanity coolest build in. Total Home Remodeling

8. Hamper, really great to include this built in if space allows

We love Marie Kondo but we just want to ensure you plan ahead for what you really need for your home!

Orla Regan Huq

Orla Studios: Wine Country House Inspiration

Situated on a hilltop overlooking 40 wooded acres, the Sonoma Wine Country House takes advantage of its northern California location with seamless access to the...

Contemporary single family house overlooking the village of Healdsburg in California, designed by Feldman Architecture.


Working on Napa Houses and pulling lots of our favorite inspiration images we wanted to share, Summer Bliss!

Steel, Glass and Woven Willow

Woven willow on top of the trellis structure above references the cottages at Solage which Orla worked on in 2007. This house is all steel and glass with clerestory windows and shaded overhangs!

Rustic Stone veneer and Wood Siding and Axes and Symmetry is a win in these level Vinefilled landscapes


Lake Tahoe Martis Camp Lake Tahoe, CA Relaxed Modern Golf & Ski Retreat 8500 square feet Interior Design Interior and Exterior Construction Appointments

Zinfandel House in California Wine Country / Field Architecture

Elegant Napa Valley Escape

Sonoma County Residence by Turnbull Griffin Haesloop


Axes and Symmetry……


If you love modern:

Inspired by the simplicity and sophistication of mid-century modern architecture, this Australian home is a single level design and is spacious in its layout.


Modern style, glass with large overhangs to keep cool

V House Shaun Lockyer cc Scott Burrows

Foto: Reprodução / Carney Logan Burke Architects

Image 2 of 12 from gallery of Tucson Mountain Retreat / DUST. Photograph by Jeff Goldberg/Esto

Orla Huq


Orla Studios: Our Favorite Wine Country Style Kitchen Tips

Orla Huq

We have a couple of vacation houses we are working on in the Wine Country in California and it is so much fun to create that Wine Country feeling!

We thought we would share some of our favorite ideas for designing a gorgeous country style kitchen:

Lots of wood for warmth: This kitchen has a mix of light oak and walnut with stained cedar ceiling. The shaker style cabinets are thinner than traditional surrounds at 1.5″ instead of 2″ so it looks nicely updated with dark bronze pulls and mesh uppers.

Bred krefman

Steel or Steel look windows:

Love this bright white open kitchen with huge paneled windows, statuesque table lamps on either side of the basin kitchen sink, straight bar drawer pulls and dark wood table serving as the marble topped kitchen island.

Beth Rucker

Textured tile and butcher block:

We love the chevron tile right now!

Full height storage cabinets: Love how elegant these are when they are kept slim and tall!! Also love the contrasting island!!


Butlers Pantries: We designed one of these for a Beverly Hills A list Celebrity and it had three layers that just folded out, 8 feet tall, it was just amazing!! We had a wonderful cabinetmaker!!

Color is back!

love the marble and that green

Big Islands with lots of space for guests and extended family!

Goodman Pendant | Modern Lighting | McGee & Co.


Reclaimed wood doors: There are lots of architectural salvage yards and it is worth spending an afternoon exploring to see if you can find something fabulous!

Favorite Things Friday - Liz Marie Blog

In Good Taste:Kantelberg + Co. - Design Chic

Stone: I know the image above is a little too rustic for most but the use of stone, even a light stone on a wall in the kitchen just looks fantastic if you choose a stone you love.

#winecountry #shakerkitchens #design #residentialdesign #napakitchens #napa #sonoma #Calistoga #kitchens

Orla Regan Huq

Orla Studios: Modern Farmhouse Exteriors


We love the high clerestory windows bringing light into great rooms and indoor outdoor spaces. Simple windows with just one cross member mullion.  Metal Roofs and board and batten siding are inviting with contrasting Barn Like cedar clad buildings as architectural forms made part of the composition. 

Modern Farmhouses with Nanawall or pocketing type doors that can open up a room completely to the garden, are suited to Marin and Sonoma with the indoor outdoor lifestyle and feeling of spaciousness and comfort.

Modern Residential Inspiration - Contemporary Farmhouse Design

Lovely Modern Farmhouse Exterior Colors Design Ideas (19)

We love the way the entry leads to steel doors and lighted entryway, giving a sense of openness to the architecture.

Love the way this porch is enclosed with a view to the lake beyondSee the source image

This wrap around porch with a low sloping roof and thin fascia board

Image result for modern farmhouse exterior

The steel doors, stucco and stone with metal roof creating contrast and texture.


This elegant steel trellis creates a light shade element over the seating area.

See the source image

The contrast between the steel and glass modern structure and the textured stone wall creates tension and openess.


Views to landscape beyond through light aluminium windows and doors invites guests in.

Orla Regan Huq

Orla Studios Guide to NetZero:

Building Science is continually evolving and getting more efficient so how to get to netzero is subject to change but here is our best for now 🙂 Check out the end of the post for how to renovate your home in stages to NetZero, everyone can have this!

What is NetZero? Why does it make sense?

  • A NetZero home is one that produces as much energy as it uses each year so it no longer contributes to global warming.
  • Buildings are 45 percent of the global carbon emissions problem so homeowners, architects and building designers have a lot of power to change sea level rise and the other major concerns we are encountering worldwide.

This means a new way of building and innovative thinking.

We need to create a building that uses less energy than before because it is better built and has the ability to generate its own energy.

See the source image

Let’s look at how to design a house in preparation for NetZero use:



Passive Solar Design: What is this?

It is usually not possible to get this exact, as sites differ, but the intent is below.

  • In passive solar building design, windows, walls, and floors are made to collect, store, reflect, and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter and reject solar heat in the summer
  • Design the house to use the sun, breezes to heat and cool.

See the source image

  • East West Orientation in the northern hemisphere: (Orientation is different in southern hemisphere)
  • Design the building long in the east west face, maximizing the south face. The north face has very little windows and more thermal mass.
  • South facing sun: in the summer when it is too hot, the angle of the sun is very high so an overhang can keep your house cool
  • In the winter, the south facing sun is low in the sky and can bring in the sunlight to the interior to warm the home.

See the source image

  • We can create models on our computers to show where the sun will travel around your home.

Thermal mass: what is this?

  • Thermal mass captures the sun’s energy
  • In the daytime, the sun comes in and heats up the thermal mass, it soaks the heat up
  • In the evening the concrete, stone or other thermal mass material radiates off the heat slowly, heating the home.

See the source image

See the source image

See the source image

Air movement to passively cool:

See the source image

  • Air movement is not always used for NetZero as a really tight and efficient envelope is more energy saving but it depends on individual house design
  • we can modify other elements to use passive cooling.

Energy efficient building envelope:

To get to netzero it helps to have a really energy efficient building envelope, basically a blanket over and around your structure to keep heat in when its cold outside and keep cool air inside when it heats up. Insulation can provide half of the heat needed to heat your home.

See the source image

Does that mean the air is stuffy inside?


  • there is a system which will bring in fresh air from the outside
  • the air goes through a unit that captures the heat content of the air to make it similar to what is inside the house and releases it into the home
  • It also removes air continuously from the house so you get a very fresh house
  • This system has filters so it actually can be really helpful if you have someone prone to asthma or allergies in your family

How do you get an energy efficient envelope?

  • Insulation is cheap and you will lose less energy heating and cooling so you insulate all the building envelope, windows and doors, below slab, walls above grade, walls below grade and roof
  • Closed cell insulation has become more and more energy efficient but is higher cost
  • We will cover options to super insulate your home in another Orla Studios Guide.
  • The diagram below is just one option using regular insulation and double wall construction from fine home building magazine but there are lots of less labor intensive options!
  • For windows and doors, manufacturers are bringing out more efficient models every year so you do not necessarily need to use triple glazing anymore to get to netzero.

See the source image

Double-stud walls are a low-tech way to create highly energy-efficient walls with common materials and familiar assemblies


How do you test for a no leak tight exterior envelope:

  • Sealing up the house perimeter is important so there are no air leaks.
  • There is a test your contractor can do call a blower test to see how airtight the envelope is.

See the source image

  • There are a number of new products on the market to help seal the natural openings created during construction that we will cover in another Orla Studios Guide.

So how do you make your house use as little energy as possible:

Let’s look at the typical energy users in your house:

Heating and cooling:

  • HVAC equipment designers work with the most efficient compressors, fans, and pumps, coupled with advanced controls, to meet the net-zero energy goal. The result is a more efficient system that uses less energy and saves operational costs.
  • Smarter controls and the Internet of Things (IoT) are playing a large part in ensuring a building is operating as efficiently as possible.

Here are some of the most efficient and green options for heating and cooling your home:

Geothermal energy is thermal energy generated and stored in the Earth.

See the source image

Image result for Geothermal Energy Heating and Cooling

If the ground temperature is warmer than the ambient air temperature, the heat pump can move heat from the ground to the building. The heat pump can also operate in reverse, moving heat from the ambient air in a building into the ground, in effect cooling the building. Ground source heat pumps require a small amount of electricity to drive the heating/cooling process.

Ductless Heat Pumps

Air-source ductless heat pumps (DHPs) require no ducts or water pipes and are sometimes referred to as mini-splits. In addition to saving energy, they cost less to install and create only two penetrations in the building shell. DHPs can be sized accurately to meet the needs of small, efficient homes, which makes them a good match for many zero energy homes.

Image result for ductless heat pumps

Radiant heat:

Hydronic radiant heating and cooling is used in 50% of net-zero energy buildings. It’s a cost-effective way to downsize forced-air HVAC systems, cutting energy use yet enhancing comfort.

Use Heat pump water heaters:

Takes heat out of the air and uses it to start to heat the water so you use less energy to get hot water.

Some models have both input and output ducts so you can have a water heater that blows cold air.

Huge energy savings. Standard electric water heaters uses $500 per year for family for four, heat pump is $208 per year.

See the source image


Induction cooktops are instant on, instant off and all electric so you can use your solar panels to operate them. They use magnets and are really efficient using special pans the cooktop stays cool always so it is safer for your family.



A heat pump dryer works as a closed loop system by heating the air using it to remove moisture from the clothes and then reusing it once the moisture is removed. Rather than releasing warm, humid air through a dryer vent to the exterior of the home as a conventional dryer does, a heat pump dryer sends it through an evaporator to remove the moisture without losing too much heat. Making use of a refrigerant as part of this process means less electricity is used to generate heat.


  • Easy to install since they don’t require ventilation
  • Can reduce energy use by at least 28% compared to standard dryers
  • Dries laundry at low temperatures, so they are gentler on clothes


There are many wonderful LED lighting options now to light your home using very little electricity.

How does your home generate its own energy?

Solar Panels:
This is where you generate power and we can do calculations to figure out how many panels you need to get to NetZero. It depends on the local utility how they value the energy you provide and how much you can save.

See the source image

Wind power:

More and more affordable options are being developed every day. Wind power has about a quarter of the carbon footprint of solar panels which means the manufacturing process contributes less to global warming.

  • An advantage of the microturbines required for home use is that they need less wind to begin turning than their commercial cousins.
  • Being smaller they generate less power
  • Small wind turbines are defined as producing less that 100 kilowatts per hour, usually less than ten, with quite a number generating more like 1.5kW/hr.

See the source image

  • The higher above the roof the turbine can be positioned the stronger the breeze will be. Wind speed increases at the seventh power above effective ground level.
Residential Wind Turbine Pair Above Netherlands Rooftop - iStockPhoto

Electric car: Not really part of the netzero equation but will save you money if you build a netzero house

See the source image

See the source image

Netzero will be a requirement in California for new houses starting 2020.



Tumble Creek Cabin #coate

How the home above got to Netzero:

  • High-performance rain screen building envelope with continuous exterior insulation
  • Over insulated roof beyond required Washington State Energy code minimums
  • Radiant floor heating and Energy Recovery Ventilation System
  • 10 kWh PV Solar Panel array, engineered for Tesla Powerwall battery backup system
  • Use of rustic materials, including stone, Cor-ten steel, and reclaimed barn wood with modern detailing
  • Exposed steel and wood structure throughout the main spaces
  • Radiant Heat
  • Heating and ventilation system can be monitored and adjusted remotely
  • Massive board-formed concrete fireplace
  • LED lighting
  • Energy efficient aluminum-clad wood windows and doors
  • Electric car charging station

NetZero Renovation:

You can also renovate your home to NetZero in steps: check out one of our favorite Canadians who does just that:

#renovate #netzero #globalwarming #stopglobalwarming #cop24 #cop25 #solar

#gonetzero , #, , , , #, , #, #,

Orla Huq

Orla Studios: Modern Stair Inspiration

Our goto on our modern house projects is a floating stair in wood with a custom designed, custom fabricated steel handrail! We have some wonderful metalworkers, true craftsmen, we work with on the custom designs. We love how light they are and how they have less impact on the space. They allow more openness, sunlight and give you that wonderful airy feeling in the center of your home!!

We have a client right now who wants a more traditional spin on the floating stair so we thought we would share some of our favorite gorgeous stair inspiration with you as we draw some ideas for her……Enjoy!



The Peaks View Residence was designed by Carney Logan Burke Architects with two main objectives: to blend in with the existing conservative community, while fulfilling the homeowners' wish for a...

carney logan burke

Architecture Beast: Beautiful Houses: Nettleton 198 by SAOTA | #archibeast…


Wo House / SO Architecture





Constantino. Photo by Dominica Roda

Plaini and Karahalios

Villa AMT by Gerstner | Home Adore - cantilever timber sleepers with concealed frameless glass fixing - very seamless


Die Wendeltreppen, eine praktische und schöne Möglichkeit, in jedem Interieur zu verwenden!  #interieur #jedem #moglichkeit #praktische #schone #verwenden #wendeltreppen

Beautiful floating stairs by #EeStairs

“Custom Floating stairs decorated in a unique fashion. Staircases have become central features in the interior environments and can be aesthetically…”

Art of interiors

Wat ooit een smalle donkere rijwoning was, is nu een licht en luchtige woning met doorkijkpatroon. Met enkele intelligente toetsen kan je ‘benepen’ rijwoning er plots helemaal anders uitzien. Je kent ze wel, die typisch smalle stadswoningen. In Gent staat het er vol van. CAS architecten zagen niets dan mogelijkheden in deze woning met zijn
clean railing


Floating Stairs By Kuadra Studio


DI-VA house by Tectoniques


JA House / Filipi Pina + Maria Ines Costa

costa and pina

SDM КВАРТИРА, Мумбаи, Arquitectura ан семинар Movimiento



🇬🇧 #Staircase Design by K2LD. /// 🇪🇸 Diseño #Escaleras por K2LD. #d_signers


Secret Garden House: A Unique Contemporary Home With A Tropical Feel In Singapore

secret garden house

Runde Wendeltreppe | MetallArt Metallbau Schmid GmbH More


24 Intriguing Images That Will Surely Pique Your Interest - Wtf Gallery

Orla Regan Huq

Orla Studios Guide to green Passive House Design

The passivhaus or passive house standard was developed in the early 1990’s in Germany. It dramatically reduces the need for heating and cooling and improves air quality.
Passive Houses allow for space heating and cooling related energy savings of up to 90% compared with typical building stock and over 75% compared to average new build. Passivehouse building techniques result in ultra-low energy buildings

Image result for modern passive house

Bamboo House by Karawitz Architects
  • It basically wraps a house in a big insulation blanket with no gaps to prevent heat loss and gain

Image result for modern passive house

  • houses are orientated to allow solar passive heat gains (in the northern hemisphere, windows on the south with very little openings on the north side). In warm climates, southern facing glazing is shaded by large overhangs or shade systems so intense summer rays do not overheat. At the Karawitz house this system is bamboo, a highly sustainable building material

Minimumhouse at Mellensee located in South Berlin is the first of a series of houses designed by Ahlbrecht Felix Scheidt Kasprusch

passive cooling

Passive house cooling in hot climates:

orla studios

insulation and use of cool colors on the exterior, airtightness to limit heat and humidity gainsnight cooling and fixed or movable shading and large overhangsgeothermal cooling, the earth is cooler just 10 to 13 feet below grade and can be used to cool structure abovethermal mass, creating a thick building envelope to absorb heat from exterior. Keeps home cool during summer and keeps heat in during winterhigh levels of insulation with low levels of thermal bridging, (thermal bridging is where gaps in the insulated building envelope cause temps to jump from inside to outside or vice versa)

  • These highly insulated wall, floor and foundations are customized based on the climate the house is located in, warmer climates use less material

  • building envelope has a high level of airtightness (they use a blow test). All joints are taped with special tape to create airtight seal


  • excellent level of indoor air quality
  • mechanical ventilation system for the whole house which recovers heat for reuse (air exiting house warms air entering through heat recovery)

images courtesy and
  • the standard encourages a high level of energy efficiency for appliances, lighting and hot water generation
  • photovoltaic systems are installed for energy generation
  • to be certified the house needs to meet the following energy criteria

* PE ≤ 120 kWh/m².yr + ((SHD – 15 kWh/ m².yr) x1.2)

  • EnerPHit is the passive house standard for remodels
  • triple glazing or double glazing with low e and no thermal bridging can be used for windows and doors

For certification:

the energy balance of the proposed building must be verified using the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) using the appropriate regional climatic dataset. Either the monthly or the annual method may be applied.

PHPP is available from US Germanypass

mg house

This article was written for the Orla Studio’s sister Site:

#passivehouse #passivhaus #greenbuilding #greenarchitecture #marincounty #architecture

Orla Huq

Orla Studios Guide to Flood Resilient Design

Note from Orla Studios: the information below is planning for 0-40 years from now.

Planners, Cities and National Governments have more serious problems developing due to sea level rise for 40-60 year periods and 60-135 years and beyond. It is critical that this is thought about now and the civil engineering solutions developed now to deal with the pending crisis in 2100 to our coastline, and our infrastructure. We do not have solutions in place or even in process currently for the longer timelines. The global clmate change conferences occurring each year are critical as are our actions to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5 c. Your actions everyday count, what you eat, what you drive, what you build.

The Big U – BIG Teams Vision for protecting Manhattan from storm surges like hurricane Sandy’s: watch vi video above
Designing for Flood Risk focuses on preparing buildings to withstand the threat of coastal flooding, while ensuring that they support everyday livability and quality of life. The devastation wrought in waterfront communities from recent Hurricanes and storm surge has brought a new level of urgency to this work. Flood tolerance is the capacity to remain undamaged and functional when flooded, which requires adapting the built environment to floods.

For a diagram of the Sea Level Rise impact to your community see maps below prepared by Union of Concerned Scientists: (all of maps referenced here are continuously being updated as new data comes in)

The USA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:


How can we ensure that buildings meet higher flood protection standards while preserving the vitality of our neighborhoods?
BASE FLOOD ELEVATION (BFE) the computed elevation in feet to which floodwater is anticipated to rise during the base flood, is the regulatory requirement for the elevation or floodproofing of structures. A building’s flood insurance premium is determined by the relationship between the BFE and a structure’s elevation.

“In the coastal velocity zone (“V zone”), where hurricane storm surge is the risk and wave action is the driving force, you need an open foundation on pilings, which allows waves to pass below the home’s occupied space. Waves pack an enormous punch—because water is so much more massive than air, a 2-foot or 3-foot wave is far more destructive than the hurricane winds that are pushing it. That’s why a 30-foot surge with high battering waves, like Hurricane Katrina brought in 2005, is able to scrape shorelines clean of buildings” Ted Cushman, Building mag.

We need to develop a flood-tolerant lifestyle based on flood adaptation at the property level:

Image result for modern architecture on stilts flood

Image result for modern architecture on stilts flood

Parday House near Wargrave: a completed home is raised up on a steel frame, above ground leve

  • allows the site to flood, protecting from potential damage
  • flood water flows freely underneath the building- development does not adversely impact the flood plain as a whole and excess water isn’t pushed elsewhere

Image result for flood resilient design residential building

Image result for combined dry and wet flood proofed ares building mixed use ny

RIBA competition entry above: flood solution

Permeable paving use in mitigating flash flooding caused by heavy rainfall:

Image result

Image result

  • permeable paving can drain into swales and retention ponds
  • reduces the risk of flash flooding by slowing down the flow of rainwater to help to discharge it back to the ground at a reduced flow rate

Drainage swales to prevent and ease flash flooding from heavy rainfall:

Image result for drainage swales
Swales can be part of an area’s natural landscaping, or they can be created to help ensure proper drainage, minimize runoff or capture storm water. In simple terms, they are generally shallow ditches that have gently sloping sides.

  • swales are a cost effective and more natural solution to traditional drainage construction
  • provide an opportunity to introduce more native species to a site
  • the swales can be seeded with a mix containing species suitable for seasonally wet soils

Green corridors/temporary holding ponds for flood waters:

Water Boulevards, a concept developed in England, creates a network of green corridors to manage and passively reduce flooding, integrating Green Infrastructure and Water Sensitive Urban Design into City streets. It can be applied as a network of green corridors to any city at risk of flooding. Water Boulevards is a project by Baharash Architecture.

Water Boulevards from Baharash on Vimeo.

Parks as water holding areas:

Parks can be designed to double as a water holding area during a flood event. Parks, designed like this one in Copenhagen, allow recreational areas like skate parks to become temporary holding ponds for flood waters:

Image result for copenhagen flood park

Image result for copenhagen flood park

Image result for copenhagen flood park

Image result for copenhagen flood park

Mechanical and electrical equipment protection during flood events:
Image result for flood resilient design residential building
  • Mechanical and electrical equipment such as HVAC, boilers, and water heaters should also be relocated above BFE whenever possible. It is important not only to protect the equipment from flood damage, but also to prevent gas and oil from mixing with flood water contributing to other environmental risks.
  • In flood prone areas the main lines should be run through the ceiling or upper wall then down to switches and outlets set at mid-wall height. Any wiring installed below the BFE must be water-resistant

Two approaches to floodproofing buildings: Wet and Dry:

Wet floodproofing:
  • allows buildings in the flood zone to be designed to allow floodwaters to enter and leave the structure without the use of any mechanical equipment.
  • Spaces that are below grade on all sides are prohibited, and the lowest occupiable floor is required to be elevated above the BFE
  • To prevent the collapse of building walls, a wet-floodproofed building allows for the equalization of hydrostatic forces on both sides of the wall during a flood event. This is achieved with openings at the ground level called flood vents see Orla Studios Guide to Flood Vents
  • All emergency exit stairwells and corridors shall be wet floodproofed and designed with hydrostatic openings (flood vents) to maintain the operation of the exit door. Emergency exits must open at grade. Evacuation points from elevated
    floors are not acceptable as emergency exits.


Dry floodproofing:

  • Dry floodproofing makes a structure watertight up to at least the level of the BFE through the implementation of sealants, flood shields, aquarium glass and strengthening structural components to resist hydrostatic forces from floodwaters, and protecting utilities from flood damage
  • Unlike wet floodproofing, the first floor of a dry-floodproofed structure can be at
    an elevation below grade or below the base flood elevation.
  • Through dry floodproofing, building access can be maintained at grade with no apparent differences from a non-floodproofed condition
  • Any of these conditions will generally entail higher construction
    costs. Dry floodproofing can present safety hazards during a flood event by blocking egress, so it is not allowed in entirely residential buildings

Image result for flood resilient design residential building
As a fairly common practice in New York City, new mixed-use buildings
in A zones have combined wet and dry floodproofed areas at the ground
floor. With this solution, portions of the building are sealed at the ground floor
to keep floodwaters out, while lobbies and entryways are designed to accommodate flooding
Image result for new york sea level rise
Flood and Hurricane proof skyscraper in NYC:

Image result for american copper building

Image result for american copper building

“In American Copper Apartments, (above) developers decided to fortify the two towers with features that would mitigate the effects of a hurricane, including a flood resilient basement and lobby and a park that doubles as a bioswale.

Mechanical equipment that would typically be found in the basement — such as generators, electrical switchgear, and pumps — is on the second floor, above the flood line” writes Lauren Young of Science Friday,

Image result for american copper building

Nearly 2 million people were left without power during the Sandy storm in NYC, and some were living in buildings for no power for a week, the developer of these apartments elected to put things like water pumps, elevators, lights, electrical charging outlets and people’s refrigerators on emergency power generators.

Full article about American Copper:

Helping neighborhood vibrancy when first floors need to be elevated above base flood plain:

  • A planting buffer with shrubs or trees, combined with other façade treatments such as vertical articulation, can mitigate limited ground-floor activity
  • Architectural elements like turns in an entry stair, porches or decks for one and two family buildings can mitigate the distance between grade and the first occupied floor of a building, introduce an additional horizontal visual feature that gives the façade more of a pedestrian scale, and bring “eyes on the street” with a semi-private space closer to the sidewalk

Image result for modern flood elevated homes

Image result for modern flood elevated homes

  • Access elements such as stairs and ramps can be integrated into the landscaping to make a more seamless transition from sidewalk to building. Grading should be designed that does not create drainage problems for adjacent properties

Coastal community planning and development codes need to be updated immediately:

  • Planning and zoning could be modified allowing for additional flexibility to raise yards and building heights to resolve the difference between existing grade and BFE, making it possible to resolve the height differential between them


San Francisco has a Model for Grant Assistance for Flood Preparation:

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC)’s Floodwater Grant Program (“Grant Program”) helps property owners in San Francisco minimize the risk of property damage due to flooding. They encourage Residents to take advantage of the Grant Program which reimburses flood victims who want to install improvements like doorway seals, flood gates or plumbing upgrades to lessen or prevent future flood damage. More info here:

New Jersey Excellent Guide to Resilient Building Design:

For Cities trying to protect Utilities and Wastewater plants, excellent guide from US Environmental Protection Agency:
New York Cities Video about their flood resilience strategies:

#flooding #flood #floodresilient #bfe #basefloodelevation #sfpuc #emergencypowergenerators #floodzone #sealevelrise #dryfloodproofing #wetfloodproofing #swales #designingforflood #designingforsealevelrise #climatechange

Orla Huq

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