Cheap, wooden, and flat-packed–they’re not characteristics you would normally associate with hurricane-proof housing. But then most hurricane-proof buildings aren’t like the Cubicco, which is now available in Florida.
Built from laminated wood and cork, the house costs only $116,000 after assembly and has met Miami-Dade County’s standards for “high velocity” conditions. Basically, you can build right on the coast and it’s good to withstand wind speeds of up to 180 miles per hour.
“We’re the only timber frame construction that can withstand that amount of pressure,” says Mario Espiñeira, co-founder of Cubicco, a subsidiary of a Dutch company of the same name.
It seems scarcely believable and I question Espiñeira and his partner Owen Healy about whether it’s really true. Healy replies that it’s all about the engineering–specifically the way the pre-cut spruce pieces are put together.
“When we glue and screw our corners, that’s stronger than a piece of plywood itself,” Healy says. “If you think of an airplane fuselage, our entire facade is one solid piece. It’s like cutting a big piece of plywood and walking into your home.”
The building sits on a steel “point load” system and, according to Miami code, can be raised on stilts as high as 17-feet. Which is great if you want to protect against rising ocean levels.
To build outside of Florida, you would need to get permission from the local authorities, though Espiñeira doesn’t reckon that would be a problem. The Miami-Dade County code is said to be the strictest in the U.S. Cubicco, which was formed last year, is now planning projects in the Netherlands, around the U.S, and in the Caribbean.