Tsunami-Proof House Design: A Guide | NONAGON.style
How Do You Design a Tsunami-Proof House?

How Do You Design a Tsunami-Proof House?

A guide to tsunami-proof homes

Written by –
NONAGON.style Team
on September 19th 2018
Our team creates original content, from home tours to DIYs each piece is created especially for NONAGON.style readers.

After the Japan tsunami in 2011, architects and developers alike turned their attention to tsunami-proof homes. Though living in a tsunami-proof house won’t offer complete protection from the devastation, it can go a long way towards giving you the best chance of surviving the ordeal unscathed and with your home still somewhat intact. But just how do architects go about designing a tsunami-proof home? Keep reading to find out.

How do architects design a tsunami proof house? | NONAGON.style

Designing a Tsunami-Proof House

Avoid Building Close to the Coastline

The very first thing architects and planners should do when designing a tsunami-proof house is consider location.

Designing a Tsunami Proof House: Beach house facade with angled balconies | NONAGON.style
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Tsunamis can affect areas a great distance from the coast, but it’s buildings that are closest to the coastline that are most at risk. Not only are they the first to be hit when a tsunami strikes, but they’re also the ones most likely to encounter the bulk of the strong winds and storms.


As detailed in our guide to building in flood zones, elevation is key. Given the ferocious heights of tsunami swells, it seems the taller the better.

Designing a Tsunami Proof House: Modern contemporary elevated house structure with stilts | NONAGON.style
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A suspended floor which accommodates water flow underneath the building will greatly reduce damage. This is why homes in flood zones like coastal California are built on top of car garages, complete with collapsible doors to allow for the major force of the water to flow through.


While timber structures are heavily favored in earthquake resistant architecture, any kind of wood material is disastrous for a tsunami situation.

Designing a Tsunami Proof House: Rustic wood timber building with wood panel exterior | NONAGON.style

Timber structures are easily uprooted. What’s more, timber floats, and thus may cause further damage to other buildings. As an alternative, architects could opt for concrete or reinforced steel instead.


Did you know that rough terrain reduces the momentum of waves, slowing the flow of water down?

Designing a Tsunami Proof House: Outdoor exterior with wild natural vegetation and grass | NONAGON.style
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As such, it’s a good idea to allow the surrounding vegetation and reefs to grow freely. Mangrove swamps in particular have proven effective in counteracting the force of a tsunami.

Want to discover more about how architects design for natural disasters? Have a read of our guide to earthquake-resistant architecture. You might also like to find out how architecture adapts for flood zones too!


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