Shelter From Severe Weather In The Florida Keyes

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Problem Statement

The purpose of this Masters Research Project is to design a permanent structure that acts as a shelter that protects residents in Key West from hurricanes, and an intersection of travel for incoming resources. This shelter will be a permanent and pre-emptive structure, utilized by the community throughout the year, while always prepared for the unexpected disaster to occur. The two main objectives of this project are to design a space in which people reside during dangerous storms, and to create a more efficient way to enter and exit Key West to the mainland.

Background of the Problem

The Island of Key West is the southernmost community in the United States. It is 4miles long and 2miles wide with a total land mass of 4. 2 square miles. Key West is at the end of the chain of islands known as the Florida Keyes. The island has an estimated 27, 000 residents at 11, 000 households. Its current highest elevation sits eighteen feet above sea level. Key West is 130 miles southwest of Miami by air travel, and 160 miles by car. The key is 106 miles northeast of Havana, Cuba. Due to its southern location, it is a major port for Cruise ships. The island houses a Naval Air Station for naval aviation training due to its consistent and destructive tropical weather. The Calusa people before Ponce de Leon’s arrival in 1521 originally inhabited Key West. Post Spanish inquisition, it became a fishing village. The Spanish named the island, “Cayo Hueso, ” meaning “bone cay. ” Cay refers to the surrounding reef, and bone refers to the Key being a former communal graveyard to its original inhabitants. The British took control of Florida and Key West in 1763, pushing its Spanish and Native American residents south to Havana, Cuba. The island re-conquered by Spain 20 years later continued on as an informal settlement for fishermen.

The island was given to Juan Pablo Salas, a Spanish naval officer in 1815. Salas sold the island in 1822 to John W. Simonton. Simonton was a U. S. businessman who purchased the island for its strategic location and deep harbor between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. In the same year, Lt. Commander Matthew C. Perry traveled to Key West to claim the Keys as United States property. No protests were made and the Florida Keys became a United States property. The island was soon after renamed to Key West.

Key West remained in the Union control during the Civil Ware despite Florida’s seceding. Fort Zachary Taylor assisted in making Key West a key outpost. Key West held a major role in the salt production industry pre-civil war. Production resumed post-war but was soon after destroyed in a hurricane in 1876. In 1912, the island was connected to mainland Florida through the creation of an overseas railway, (an extension of the Florida East coast Railway. ) The Railway was destroyed in a lethal hurricane and never repaired (1935. ) The FEC could not afford to rebuild the railroad. The US department purchased the damaged railroad and rebuilt it as a highway in 1938. The Overseas Highway is a 113 mile highway extension to US1, which spans between the Florida Mainland and Key West. This highway connects all of the Florida Keys and is the sole route of entry into the island from mainland peninsular Florida. Key West’s climate consists of tropical savanna, similar to the Caribbean Islands. Sea wind suppresses heating, keeping temperatures below 95° F. It is the driest city in Florida with under 40 inches of rain per year. Due to its location and geography hurricanes are common and have the capability to cause severe damage. Key West has experienced multiple hurricanes that have required evacuation due to severe winds and storm surge. Flooding coincides with hurricanes, covering up to 60 percent of the island in water. The mandatory evacuations spread into the other keys, causing a mass exodus up US 1. The distance from the mainland, as well as the limited access to the island, makes Key West a primary site location for a shelter and transportation hub in times of limited supply of resources.

Precedent Review

FLOAT House: The FLOAT House is located in New Orleans, Louisiana. Morphosis Architects designed the Project in response to the “Make it Right Foundation’s” hurricane effort. This project reached completion in 2009. The home is 947 square feet and is single story. The entry is located on the north end of the unit to provide access to the driveway and street.

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Looking at the project in plan shows a strong correlation in terms of the circulation and access to the programmatic requirements of the unit. A single corridor stretches the length of the unit providing entry points to dining, living, and sanitary spaces. This efficient method of moving through the unit also allows opportunities for natural lighting on three of the four sides of the corridor while being deemed a “gallery” space. The FLOAT house’s primary goals were to be self-sustainable, providing its own water and electric needs during times of disaster similar to that of Hurricane Katrina. This is done through use of the angled roofs that provide both rain-water collection as well as photovoltaic panels. The home also makes use of low flow plumbing, low energy appliances, and geothermal heating and cooling. The house is structured to resist hurricanes through the use of its raised, modular, pre-fab chassis. This chassis is anchored to piers imbedded into a concrete pad.

The idea behind the FLOAT house is to create a home that is better suited to resist flooding, and does so with the usage of guide posts that allow the building to rise vertically in times of flooding. 45 foot deep piles anchor these guide posts.

Post Disaster School: The Bann Huay San Yaw – Post Disaster School is located in Chiang Rai, Thailand. Designed and built in response to an earthquake which displaced over 2, 000 students in its destruction of 73 schools, Vin Varavarn Architects designed this school elevated above the ground on metal stilts. The structure reached completion in 2015 and stands elevated on a single level plane raised above the ground.

The school is composed of a pentagon shape in section, and an elongated rectangle in plan. This allows the form to consist of multiple bays along its length. Entry is located on the longer length of the building through steel and timber stairs. This elevated form allows sheltered outdoor activities to take place below. The exterior is clad in fiber cement panels with bamboo to help minimize both cost and weight of the structure. Material selection is due to surrounding context as an example of utilizing surrounding resources. The roof is of metal cladding with resin panel inserts to allow natural lighting within the space. Foyers divide the bays, creating a shared space that acts as a sound buffer and shared storage area.

Guiuan National High school – Typhoon Resistant (concept)In response to Typhoon Haiyan’s destruction of the Philippines in 2013, MAT-TER Architecture published its design of a Typhoon Resistant school. The objective of these projects is to raise awareness, as well as possible implementation into the areas affected. This project serves as a prototype for use in other areas prone to natural disaster. The project focused on breaking away from the idea of modular diversity and geometric resilience in order to create a single form structure that operates as a school, community center, and potential shelter in case of disaster or emergency. The structure designed with the use of readily accessible materials in the surrounding context and can be constructed by hand without aid of any complex building systems and heavy machinery. The design has prominent open spaces within it that function as courtyards while the internal spaces contains the program for schooling. This idea of having separate courtyards interlocked by internal space creates a communal approach of uniting different levels of schooling or “communities”.

The construction of the school consists of an elevated plain that allows passive cooling and elevation while providing protection from possible flooding. The façade consists of a skin clad with louvers to help control natural lighting, wind, and rain. The roof is shaped in a way that allows rain water collection, helping to make the facility self-sufficient. The structure of the school is built behind the idea of an encompassing roof that is resilient and aerodynamic to wind and water. This roof is supported by the structures of the units below that hold the classrooms and their necessary programs.

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