Tornado Proof Homes Are Like Organisms That Retract Into The Ground When A Storm Approaches

Every spring, the American Midwest braces for a phenomenon that has historically ravaged the region, a natural power drill that slices through roads, homes, and buildings, leaving destruction in its path. Every year it happens, and every year the victims of tornadoes pick up the pieces and rebuild. But what if they didn’t have to?

The designers at architecture firm 10 Design are developing a tornado-proof house that retracts into the ground when it senses changes in the weather, like wind speed exceeding normal rates. So rather than rushing into a storm shelter and eating dehydrated spaghetti and listening to AM radio until it’s all over, midwesterners could weather the storm in the comfort of their living rooms.

The tornado-proof house is an experiment in environments that can respond collectively to their natural surroundings, acting almost like living organisms. According to 10 Design, the concept is “somewhere between garage doors, flowers, and the survival mentality of a turtle.” Ted Givens of 10 Design describes the mechanics of the retraction. "A portion of the house is raised up and down out of harm’s way on a series of hydraulic arms. When a storm approaches, sensors activate the hydraulics and lower the house into the ground and the roof is sealed under waterproof doors. By raising the house, it allows for daylight and cross ventilation, which are lacked in typical underground houses. The house is intended to save lives and remove the extremely expensive rebuilding efforts required after storms.”

What’s also special about the project is that it aims to provide a safer living environment from the bottom-up. While most new residential developments aim to profit from people who can afford better homes, the tornado-proof housing would primarily serve mid to lower income households, taking the place of trailer homes that are most susceptible to damage during a storm. 10 Design explains the ideal progress if the tornado house is actually implemented. “The practice would grow the project into a suburban neighborhood and then a small town, learning and refining the designs throughout the process. The design would ultimately benefit the US government and general public in reducing the cost of house insurance and the funds needed to rebuild after disasters.”

Images and video courtesy of 10 DESIGN