Facing the Floods


We will have all seen and heard much about the extensive flooding recently, from Australia to Sri Lanka, and right the way across in Brazil. In the face of such chaos and disaster it is striking how this has effected first-hand people of many different cultures and classes. It’s a strong reminder that humanitarian design is not always just for the underprivileged in our world, and sometimes circumstances can throw a stable and strong society into massive humanitarian need. Even some of you reading this I’m sure will have seen personally the devastation of floods in the past few months.

There are links to a small sample of articles on the floods for further reading at the bottom of the page, but take a second to watch the slide show of photos below, taken from the Boston Globe Big Picture reports from Australia and Brazil.

The Challenge

We are asking you to design for flood victims. You can look closely at one area which has been recently effected, or tackle the subject on a wider level- we want you to explore what you think is necessary in these chaotic situations and what you would like to implement to improve people’s living. This could be in terms of safe shelter, protecting belongings, temporary infrastructure, saving buildings, access and transport, or any aspect which you think is important! The main focus is on providing a quick response, your design or strategy should be something that can be implemented swiftly after flooding strikes.

References and Reading








Winning Entry

Congratulations to Maria Manuel Barreiros (PORTFOLIO) and Luis Madeira, who worked together and entered their concept based on a fishing float.

Here is what Maria and Luis have to say about it…

The idea popped up quickly as the first thing we thought about was water and the obvious need for a floater. So we scaled a common floater to human size! While doing this we defined the most important aspects when designing for flooding catastrophes, such as quick response, rescuing personal belongings and maintaining personal/family relationships. Therefore our floaters would be easily distributed by air ride, and picked up with victims inside, in the same way. They would have a safe container for personal belongings and would allow for grouping with other floaters of family and friends.

In the end, our presentation and especially our proposal also wanted to transmit the need for humour to surpass those tragic situations.

Honourable mentions

Farhan Durrani & Michael Kim

The single task of saving lives was what started the design process. We asked ourselves, why is it necessary to resist or overcome forces of nature? Instead we focused on the urgency of the situation. As the ideas solidified, we were intrigued by the play in contrast, that when a design solution becomes so pure and innocent in its intention that it only concerns for a person’s life, the gesture paints a strangely calming picture in the midst of all the chaos.
Inês Abreu Ribeiro, João Rafael Jesus and Rui Vítor Baltazar

The team didn’t want to add any comments to the work, but they shared a little about themselves which is very encouraging-

We are a group of young portuguese architects/final master students in architecture that, along side with our college peers, have a deep concern for the effects of change, whether natural or man-influenced, in the society and our cities. We really enjoyed participating in this competition and support your effort to create a open and wide discussion around these important social issues.


Honourable mentions


Posted by tesseractproject on March 2, 2011 · 5 Comments (Edit)

Our Facing the Floods competition has now closed, and it was fantastic to see so many diverse, interesting and thoughtful ideas. Again, short-listing has been hard, but below are 7 of the entries we thought deserved special mention at this stage.

The winner will be announced shortly.

In the meantime, please feel free to comment on the proposals, these competitions are all about generating thoughts and discussion, so go for it!


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