When the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse approach, to where will you retreat? If this seems like a relevant question, it’s likely you’re the type who—for reasons too complex to get into here—enjoys imagining disaster scenarios. But it’s only fun if you survive the apocalypse, and that requires a well-fortified home base.
When it comes to major emergencies, conventional houses’ traditional nods toward protection—such as fences, security-alarm systems, and gated communities—are for chumps. If you plan to survive a wide-scale disaster, you’re going to need a shelter fit for holding off the beasts and roaming marauders, not to mention the coming of hell and/or high water.
It’s impossible for any one structure to be impenetrable to every potential crisis, so emergency-minded homebuilders and buyers have to pick some favorites and hope they choose correctly.
The best disaster-ready homes are the ones that cover as many dangerous scenarios as possible and allow for ongoing survival, such as self-sufficient structures capable of generating their own power, and growing or catching food. On the other end of things, bomb shelters and panic rooms are limited survival plans, in that you must be able to leave the structure and return to a livable outside world. If that’s not an option, once you exhaust the supplies, these spaces become literal dead ends. With that thought to warm your heart, click ahead to see houses with differing styles of disaster preparedness.
The Safe House
Location: Near Warsaw, Poland.
The Safe House converts from a house to a bunker in minutes. Although this walled-in home, depicted here and on the first slide, has been suggested elsewhere as a refuge in the event of a certain in vogue—and thus far, fictional—disaster scenario, a representative from the Polish architecture firm KWKPromes emphasizes its functionality and practicality. Robert Konieczny designed the contemporary concrete structure with retractable walls for a private client, with the intention of maximum safety.
Location: Winchester, Wis.
Let’s take a moment to list how many survival factors that this unique property on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has in its favor:
-Multiple escape methods
Oh, and the $18 million property consists of a grand lodge on a private island surrounded by private nature preserve. The home was designed by a German architect who built homes for some of Milwaukee’s beer barons. Also on the premises is a utility room for fish cleaning and a minnow holding tank, storage for boats and vehicles, a 1950s-era bomb shelter, and the all-important backup generator capable of powering everything on the island for more than a week. The island has a two-bedroom cabin to house a lucky few post-apocalypse hangers-on.
Location: Stinson Beach, Calif.
This home is located in a flood and seismic zone in Stinson Beach, Calif., and an article about it in Dwell magazine describes the structure as resistant to floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, even the rise of sea levels. By regulation, the house had to be elevated 12 feet and living space is restricted to 450 square feet (it’s 350 square feet). This design is distinguished from its neighbors on the beach, in that it relies on a "floating" concrete foundation, rather than using piers rooted deep in the ground. Architects Matthew Peek and Renata Ancona of Studio Peek Ancona designed it, including retractable flood walls, hoping to apply the lessons in other flood-and-storm-prone areas.
Earth Sheltered Homes
It worked for various Hobbits, and it works in reality. "Earth sheltering" uses a cover of earth for energy efficiency—the old "cool in summer, warm in winter" motivation that explains why people have lived fully or partially underground and in caves since ancient times. It’s not for everyone, but still appeals today to those with a desire to go off-grid or rely less on conventional utilities.
Bastrop, Texas-based R.C. Smoot Construction specializes in building earth-sheltered structures, such as the one pictured here in Missouri. Like the monolithic domes, Smoot’s dome-topped structures are made from concrete, and they are expected to last more than a century, and maybe much longer. The company claims its homes are resistant to earthquake, fire, intruders, and they offer protection from nuclear fallout.
Self-Sufficient / Earthship Homes
Location: Everywhere, though earthships originated in Taos, N.M.
Even the most extensive stocks of canned goods eventually run out, and gas-powered generators are going to keep sucking gas. Therefore, off-grid houses, where the occupant can collect water, grow and catch food, and independently generate power, make an attractive prospect for the post-Apocalyptic lifestyle.
Earthship homes, made of recycled materials, are typically powered by an abundant resource, passive solar energy. They utilize collected rainwater and are located mostly underground, to naturally regulate the temperature, and are heavily insulated. The home depicted here is 5,400 square feet and is selling in New Mexico’s Greater World Earthship Communityfor $1.75 million. A 3,140-square-foot Earthship in Taos, N.M., is on the market for $495,000, including a wind turbine and 6,000 gallon water storage capacity.
See more: Disaster-Ready Homes
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