Filipinos are renowned for their resilience and courage. It is therefore normal that their houses are known for the same. With the onset of the rainy season, discussions about typhoon-resistant dwellings are resurfacing.
Choose sites wisely
Although trees provide shade from the sun and rain and serve as natural barriers to wind and noise, opt for safe, relatively flat or elevated locations away from shorelines or old trees. Typhoon winds and rainfall work as a natural pruning process, removing weaker branches to maintain healthy tree trunks. Therefore, it is essential to trim and prune trees before a typhoon arrives.
Simple and unpretentious forms
When choosing a typhoon-resistant house shape, simplicity of form will work best. For example, two opposite sides automatically negotiate lateral forces in a square building. Both walls can act as shear walls.
A rectangular building will suffice if its perpendicular walls are no more than three times longer than its shear walls. On the other hand, two sides will always remain unsupported in an L-shaped building.
Although Unesco guidelines recommend fewer and smaller openings in exchange for stronger walls, this is not entirely applicable to the Philippine setting given its tropical and humid climate. Thus, it favors more and larger openings for better circulation of interior air by cross ventilation.
Distribute the openings evenly around the building, especially on its opposite sides, for better stability. It also allows wind to pass through easily, reducing internal suction forces while increasing cross ventilation. For wide, oversized windows that span from floor to ceiling, storm shutters can be an added security measure.
A permanent form of roof
Gable roofs are typical in the Philippines as they are economical to build. However, strong winds can easily lift and lift these roofs all at once. For resistance to typhoons, local builders prefer a pyramidal hipped roof with a slope ranging from 30 to 40 degrees. This roof configuration offers the best wind resistance.
Choose the right materials
A critical consideration in selecting materials for any part of a home is its weight – the heavier the material, the more resistant it is to typhoons.
In general, reinforced concrete masonry is more resistant to typhoons than wood. However, it is essential to highlight in particular low-income families who use lightweight materials to build their homes. To compensate, strong connections between foundations, walls and roofs are needed so that the structure can behave as a strong integrated unit during disasters. Deep, solid foundations in wooden houses and diagonal bracing on the walls help combat increasing wind pressures.
More than just a refuge
During natural disasters, especially typhoons, the homes of low-income Filipinos almost invariably suffer the greatest damage. It is essential to understand the importance of creating houses not only as shelters but also as long-term investments for the public. While creating secure housing can be costly for many, replacing inadequate coverage will be more costly and time-consuming in the long run.
The author (ianfulgar.com) runs his own architecture and technology studio to assist local and international clients seeking unique and future design specialties for hotels, condominiums, museums and commercial township developments and mixed-use with a pursuit of the meta-modern in the next Philippine architecture.
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