Our team aspires to achieve a design that is beneficial to the community and structurally adequate to withstand the powerful, natural forces that batter Puerto Rico. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, we have seen that many of the homes and structures were not built to withstand a force so destructive. With our design, we hope to utilize a variety of disaster preventative technologies, materials, and forms to stand against such forces.
In our research we have found that concrete is the most consistently successful at resisting Puerto Rico’s combination of Hurricanes, earthquakes and insects. The Department of the Interiors Architect has recommended the use of reinforced concrete in new construction. Technologies such as base isolators can be placed on the foundation of the structure so it can counter earthquakes.
An economical material that could be utilized is wood. In many cases wood can withstand strong earthquakes. What normally will fail in the
case of hurricanes are the connections of the wood members. Simpson Strong Tie is a manufacturer of a variety of connections that can be utilized for a wood structure; ranging from ties used for the roof rafters to ties connecting to the foundation. These ties essentially hold the members in place rigidly enough to resist the uplift from the wind.
We are also considering several different forms that have been studied to resist wind load. One such form is that of a dome. In built examples, they have been recorded to resist wind speeds of up to 200mi/hr. (322 km/hr.) Another structural technique is the lamella construction (also known as the zollingerdach). Originally designed to be a cost saving solution for structural members, this arched form also has the potential to be resistant to wind load if connected appropriately.
With the current need for energy, there are clean and renewable options that can be implemented into the program design. Solar power is a reliable abundant source of energy that can be harvested and stored for use throughout the day. With advances in solar power technology along with the constant drop in solar energy prices, the possibility of designing and creating a self-sustaining structure is a real possibility.
Battery packs store the energy created by solar panels and can be used at a later time, which allows for a self-sustaining building that creates and uses its own energy. This concept can be incorporated in areas and combined together to create micro-grids.
A micro-grid is a small network of electricity users with a local source of supply that is able to function independently. Some advantages include reliability, security for users off the main grid, power quality, and cost-efficient. A micro-grid also minimizes its carbon footprint
and reduces its greenhouse emissions.
Energy solutions using solar panels, battery packs, and a micro-gird.
Installed roof solar panels.