House design in St Lucia
This dissertation for MEng Civil Engineering at the University of Bristol included a collaborative part worked on by a team of four and an individual technical annex shown as a separate project. As our supervisor was active in geotechnical studies in the Caribbean at the time, we were made aware of increasing housing safety hazards in the suburban slopes of the island nation of Saint Lucia. Regular landslides are observed mainly affecting the informal settlement that results due to hurried, unregulated urban sprawl and rapid economic migration.
We set out to create the basis for a disaster-resilient, cost-effective, modular, and culturally relevant single-household house design for use in accessible governmental social-housing schemes. The result was a robust and configurable timber frame unit inspired by beehive structures, resting on deep bored concrete pile foundations.
The design attempted to minimise vulnerability to seismic and hurricane hazards, as well as exposure to landslides. Reliance on network utilities was controlled, with the structure being environmentally friendly and economically viable at GBP 40 thousand and an 11 day construction time.
We made use of Finite Element Analysis (MIDAS) and European construction standards for structural design, a translational slope stability model for geotechnics, as well as the SketchUp Vray engine for realistic 3D visualisation. We also provided a flowchart method for geotechnical engineers to assess potential slopes for safe development. The project received overall positive feedback.