Tornado Proof House
by 10 Design


Tornados would pose no threat to this conceptual house by architects 10 Design, which can tuck itself beneath the ground just like a turtle retracts its vulnerable head away from danger (+ movie).

Tornado Proof House by 10 Design

A system of hydraulic levers would be used to push the moving structure up and down, out of a sunken dock beneath the ground.

Tornado Proof House by 10 Design

Photovoltaic cells on the exterior would provide energy to power the mechanisms, and maybe even harvest fuel from pollution in the air.

Tornado Proof House by 10 Design

When the house is secured for safety, a watertight seal would protect it from intense winds and thunderstorms.

Tornado Proof House by 10 Design

The architects envision entire communities of the houses, where any residence can sound an alarm to warn others of approaching tornados.

Tornado Proof House by 10 Design

The first prototype is currently in development.

Other ambitious concepts we've featured recently include a skyscraper that makes energy from algae.

See more stories about conceptual architecture »

Here's some more explanation from Ted Givens of 10 Design:

Isn’t the Wizard of Oz a clear example of the awesome force that a tornado can muster? How can Jaws drive people out of the ocean screaming when a house blown through the sky brings back nostalgic memories? Please stay out of the water… but feel free to build your home below flood level and out of cards in the wind. There is an urgent need to shift from an outmoded logic, ignorant of the forces of nature, to a point where the unabashed rush for profit and development can be balanced against the basic goal of providing shelter. Humanity is inexplicably driven to build in places where it should not-accepting the unavoidability of this folly is the first step to breathing in a new vision. We sought a way of turning the seemingly destructive acts of nature into creative blooms.

Kinetic architecture is the innovation which we believe will form the foundation for the habitation of the future. This type of architecture learns from technological innovation and amps up its incorporation into the home, custom tailoring existing mechanisms in new ways. The revised conception of the home finds itself somewhere between garage doors, flowers, and the survival mentality of a turtle. A series of simple hydraulic levers are used to push the home in and out of the ground and deflect and warp the outer skin in response to external stimulation. The key activators of this motion being the high velocity winds associated with thunderstorms and tornadoes. A series of solar cells on the outer skin rotate and flex to attain maximum solar intensity. A translucent outer skin consisting of clear insulation sandwiched between two layers of Kevlar provides the weather barrier and lets diffuse light into the structure. We are also exploring the application of photocatalytic coatings and carbon nanotubes on the skin to absorb and clean pollution turning it directly into fuel for the home to power the hydraulics.

A water tight seal locks the roof of the collapsed home making the structure water and wind proof. There have been a series of studies since the mid 90’s showing homes that float up and out of harm’s way. This solution does not anticipate the velocity of the water, and more importantly the grinding power of the debris contained in the water. The safest place is down.

Neighborhoods will become interwoven and connected together through sensor networks that interpret weather data. After warning sirens entire suburbs can be collapsed in seconds. The whole neighborhood will behave as an organism fit for a collective response to the challenges brought by the natural environment. The image of technology as a fire breathing train slicing a trail of black smoke through the innocent forest painted by Hawthorne is slowly replaced by a desire to respond to nature and not seek to dominate it. The tornadoes and storms can burn and blow with all their fury while the suburb safely sleeps.

Can we spin this violent ever present soup into a stabilizing direction? We seek a new mobility for the home that is controlled not left to “chance” (there is nothing accidental about 100 year old weather patterns). We are currently working on the development of a prototype with a group of ship builders in the US and Africa.

Design Team: Ted Givens, Trey Tyler, Mohamad Ghamlouch, Shane Dale, Dougald Fountain

  • Josh Nelson

    Amazing renderings and epic video, but wouldn’t just a hole in the ground be easier. The design looks like it is able to cut through wind and debris but then it hides under ground, the form could be anything on a hydraulic lift. Overall it looks like a less than mobile home for the future.

    • FM-Design

      I guess anyone will choose panorama above the ground over one below ha ha ha. When there’s no tornado of course.

  • navi

    That’s one pretty tornado that just blew through – kind of like a summer haze.

  • ppp

    There was an old woman who lived in a shoe…

  • tonu

    And… earthquakes… um


  • Colonel Pancake

    My conceptual home can survive an asteroid infected with West Nile Virus.

  • @ 10 Design: Clever, but if you really intend to develop a prototype, consider gliding the house on vertical rails and the use of a counterweight to balance the entire mass of the house, in the manner of an elevator.

    What you refer to as a “series of simple hydraulic levers” would not be simple. Nor would it be be efficient or affordable. And, by the way, hydraulics have an unsettling tendency to drift over time (though such practical concerns do not currently appear to overly concern you).

  • Olli

    Wouldn’t say this is a tornado-proof house. It doesn’t take on and withstand the tornado, it just hides in a hole.

    It’s like having a tidal wave-proof house which takes off into the sky and finds higher land, a cool idea but whats the point? Buy an old cold war bunker – it’s cheaper.

  • bwd


    Honestly, if it can retract, why the pseudo streamlining? Could be effective as fins on a 50’s Cadillac, if only it looked as good.

  • wonderer

    I’d rather get blown away than live in that.

  • AL.P

    Its interesting, no denying that. However; I envision this design on a planet other than Earth. Mars for example. Not really seeing the practicality of a community of these type of homes on Earth.

  • Way too much futuristic, and I can only see a space like a room and hole on the ground. :S

  • Remix

    I’ve seen that design before. Wait…

    Yes of course it is Star Trek phaser (type ll) made into a retractable tornado proof house.

    The influence of Star Trek never ceases to amaze.

  • fred

    Again, more noise. Do they actually believe we are that naive? Poor all round.

  • Elaine

    Wow, I guess everyone IS a critic. Nice video, lovely idea for living in the natural world more safely. I like it.

  • ncmyk

    I hope it also comes with a coffee table that looks like Han Solo frozen in carbonite.

  • Ted

    Having lived in Oklahoma, I’ve been thinking of better solutions to traditional above-ground buildings for a while. In addition to the fierceness of an EF5, an obstacle to going underground has been a high water table in tornado alley, along with flooding rains that often accompany the storms.

    The design featured here reminded me of a submarine, the concept of which is a good idea for staying dry – underground – in central Oklahoma. The retractible house in OKC doesn’t need to look like a sub; it could look like a ranch house as long as it can be watertight in eight feet of water until the twister passes.

    Still, it would require a redesign and different construction methods for roofs, walls, doors, and windows. Someone will come up with a good design, eventually.

  • Xuong Ngo

    Completely pointless. Nice, random futuristic pod – not a house, not even close. It’s not practical, just a pretty picture and a waste of time.