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May 15, 2019

Buoyant foundations to improve flood resilience



As blogged by the National Research Council, floods represent a major cause of economic loss and a high potential for risk to the safety of Canadians. To address this important national challenge, a number of projects to improve the flooding resilience of Canada’s communities were identified as part of the National Research Council’s (NRC) Climate Resilient Buildings and Core Public Infrastructure (CRBCPI) initiative and are now underway.

In one CRBCPI project, the NRC is working with the University of Waterloo’s Buoyant Foundation Project. Through this effort the NRC will demonstrate the concept of amphibious construction in a Canadian climate and evaluate the feasibility of this novel technology by developing two buoyant foundation prototypes for retrofitting and new construction applications. This work will result in a best practice guide for amphibious foundation technology for use by municipalities, contractors and individual homeowners wishing to adopt the technology.

What is a Buoyant Foundation?

A buoyant foundation is a type of amphibious foundation in which an existing structure such as a home or building is retrofitted to allow it to float during floods while remaining on the ground in normal conditions. A buoyant foundation contains three basic elements: buoyancy blocks underneath the structure that provide flotation, vertical guideposts that prevent the structure from going anywhere except straight up and down, and a structural sub-frame that ties everything together. Any structure that can be elevated can be made amphibious. Watch this video to see a visual representation of this technology.

This work is part of NRC’s Climate Resilient Buildings and Core Public Infrastructure Initiative, made possible by funding from Infrastructure Canada, as part of the Pan Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.

Learn more on the National Research Council website


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