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These Designs Demonstrate Why You Should Consider a Stilt House

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The purposes of stilt houses were obvious in a bygone era, when living near the coast was a necessity to daily life. However, stilt houses are becoming increasingly relevant in our modern world, with several advantages over houses with conventional foundations. In this article, we’ll show you some incredible raised home designs from around the world and how they use stilt foundations to adapt and capture the advantages of the environment they inhabit. 

Cabin Lille by Lundhagem in Larvik, Norway

Cabin Lille by Lundhagem in Larvik, Norway was built as a holiday home on an island only accessible by boat. The topography of the location meant that stilt foundations were the only option to take advantage of the remote location. 

Take Advantage of Views

This is one reason many architects and builders love stilt house designs and one of the main advantages they have over other adobes. The ability to build on almost any kind of ground is a benefit that can’t be ignored. Build on sand and get up close to the ocean, immerse yourself in nature or be the king of the world on the side of a mountain. Difficult, uneven or even hostile terrain can be easily dealt with using stilt foundations. Stilt houses also allows for views over obstructions like trees or other buildings.

DH house by Urdaneta Zeberio house on stilts design

The difficult terrain and budget restrictions were a challenge for designer Urdaneta Zeberio when creating this home for an elderly couple in Nanzhuang, Taiwan. The result was a raised, modern, prefab home that is able to withstand typhoons and heavy seismic activity.

Massachusetts beach house on stilts

This beautiful Massachusetts beach house featured in Falmouth Magazine peers out over the Nantucket Sound.

Protection

Necessity breeds innovation. Stilt houses traditionally are raised to protect from flooding while staying close to food sources. Even if the risk of flooding is low, damp ground can destabilise a solid, flat foundation. This is becoming more relevant today, as the effects of global warming are becoming more and more apparent. However, in other regions around the world, stilted houses protected against more than just water. On mainland Asia, tigers and other large predators would occasionally wander through a populated areas in search of food, venomous snakes and insects can also crawl into a ground level home. In Australia, wooden Queenslander homes are raised off the ground to deter wood-burrowing pests like termites. Stilt houses even offer protection in urban areas, as intruders are less likely to break into a house if it is raised 7 foot off the ground.

Narula House by John Pardey Architects stilt house  on thames river

Narula House by John Pardey Architects turns into a “cruise liner” on the Thames flood plain.

Ventilation

Designers love nothing more than having a sleek design that is energy conscious, and stilt houses provide that with little extra effort. Air circulation is a challenge for houses in hot climates, but is easily achieved with stilt housing. As air pass underneath the house, it cools the rooms above. Another benefit of this increased insulation is that it wicks water off timber, preventing mould growth and decay.

Tropical stilt house design in Thailand

Sitting among coconut fronds on their fourth generation family fruit orchard, Veerapus and Nuthapak Thamrongrojanabhat and firm Studio Miti built this elegant tropical stilt house on a budget using reclaimed wood. Situated in tropical Thailand, the ventilation the stilts provide keeps the house cool all year long

Cost

The cost of stilts alone can start from $20,000 USD for a small house, and increase for larger dwellings. The initial cost of a stilt house is quite large compared to a house on the ground, as foundations can come for under $10,000 USD. The only initial price advantage a stilt house would have over a house with its foundations on the ground is if your only option was to build on a steep slope. Nevertheless, there are long term financial benefits of a stilt house. First of all, stilt houses are well insulated, saving you money on HVAC and maintenance. Second, since stilt houses aren’t prone to flooding, it is often much cheaper to insure. This will vary depending on your location.

traditional queenslander house on stilts design

A traditional raised Australian “Queenslander”, with a verandah surrounding the main house. Stilts offer protection from both floods and insects while simultaneously providing ventilation. ©Shutterstock

The Delta Shelter is a nigh-indestructible house on stilts designed by Olson Kundig

The Delta Shelter is a nigh-indestructible structure designed by Olson Kundig on the flood plains of the Methow River in Washington, USA. The building can be completely shuttered when it’s unoccupied. 


Tomas Kuru
Contributor
As the Marketing Coordinator for Archify, Tomas Kuru oversees and implements Archify’s digital marketing strategies. A writer at heart with a passion for media, Tomas graduated from Griffith University with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in journalism and has since written on many subjects.
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