Heroes

See 8 photos of the floating house that could save lives someday.

The world's sea levels are rising, so this architect built a floating house.

See 8 photos of the floating house that could save lives someday.

News flash: Our sea levels are rising at an unprecedented rate, and low-lying cities are already ankle-deep in the effects.

Case in point: Venice, Italy.


Photo by Chris Chabot/Flickr.

While levees and drainage channels may help in the short term, a long-term solution will likely involve some major changes to our habitats.

Thankfully, there are architects like Matthew Butcher who have been thinking about this issue for years.

Unlike other architects, most of whom are looking for ways to combat rising sea levels, Butcher has taken a different approach: working with the rising seas.

He believes that adapting to our changing environment is perhaps the only way we’ll survive.

That's why he built a floating house.

Photo by Brotherton-Lock, used with permission.

Pretty cool, right? Here’s how he came up with the idea:

“For the last 10 years, I have been exploring architectures that might exist within a flood-prone environment. At the core of this is an exploration around the relationship our buildings form to the environment and how they negotiate the differential between an inside and outside condition,” Butcher told Upworthy.

Butcher is a professor at the University College London's Bartlett School of Architecture and co-founder of the architecture practice Post-Works.

He’s been exploring architectural concepts on paper that respond to flooding landscapes for years, but thanks to a commission from Radical Essex, a year-long architecture program, one of his text-based projects became a reality.

This is what his floating house idea originally looked like in its infancy:

Photo via Matthew Butcher, used with permission.

And here's a more advanced version:

Photo via Matthew Butcher, used with permission.

Since April 18, 2016, locals have seen the Flood House, as it was appropriately christened, bobbing along in the Thames Estuary.

While the design is quite modern, Butcher took a great deal of his inspiration from the surrounding water-based community.

“The house references the fishing huts, concrete bunkers, the marine infrastructures and the industrial structures along the East Essex coastline. I have come to understand these structures as a kind of Estuary Vernacular, of which I have tried to make the Flood House respond,” he told Upworthy.

Photo via Brotherton-Lock, used with permission.

But don’t let the fancy exterior fool you. Inside, the house is stark.

That, too, is purposeful. The interior is basically a shelter from the elements, and nothing more. The house is not meant to help us live the comfortable lives to which we’ve become accustomed, but rather to survive if continuous flooding forces us to become completely nomadic.

And you thought "Waterworld" was just a movie.

Photo via Brotherton-Lock, used with permission.

“Life in the Flood House would have to be very simple, almost primitive. There is no access to electricity or running water,” Butcher explained.

And yes, these utilities might be implemented if this prototype were to ever become a real, functional house. But for now, Butcher said, it’s simply meant to demonstrate how architecture could cater more to an environment that’s literally ebbing and flowing.

The house does, however, possess one fancy ornament.

It's a weather vane with the word "Level" written on it, commissioned for the house by artist Ruth Ewan.

Photo via Brotherton-Lock, used with permission.

According to a press release, the title of the work was taken from a speech by the 14th-century priest and political activist John Ball and refers to the concept of social equality as well as the rise and fall of the tides.

Butcher hopes the Flood House will help other architects realize that the way they're currently building isn't about working with our surroundings, but against them.

“We continue to construct buildings to be these things that are at great cost to the environment. We seal our houses up from the weather, heating and cooling them mechanically," Butcher said.

"This puts massive pressure on natural resources used in supplying the energy for these operations. The Flood House instead presents the idea of a nomadic architecture that is subservient to the environment in which it exists. It rises and falls with the tide and travels with the currents.”

He says this isn't meant to be seen as a solution, but rather a warning that it could be our future if we don’t start reevaluating the way we live and adapt.

Photo via Brotherton-Lock, used with permission.

Rising sea levels are our reality now.

So considerable changes in how we interact with the seas must be made as we sail further into the uncharted waters of the 21st century.

Photo via Brotherton-Lock, used with permission.

Thanks to innovative thinkers like Butcher, constructive conversations about how we'll survive are already underway.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Photo by R.D. Smith on Unsplash

Gem is living her best life.

If you've ever dreamed of spontaneously walking out the door and treating yourself a day of pampering at a spa without even telling anyone, you'll love this doggo who is living your best life.

According to CTV News, a 5-year-old shepherd-cross named Gem escaped from her fenced backyard in Winnipeg early Saturday morning and ended up at the door of Happy Tails Pet Resort & Spa, five blocks away. An employee at the spa saw Gem at the gate around 6:30 a.m. and was surprised when they noticed her owners were nowhere to be seen.

"They were looking in the parking lot and saying, 'Where's your parents?'" said Shawn Bennett, one of the co-owners of the business.

The employee opened the door and Gem hopped right on in, ready and raring to go for her day of fun and relaxation.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."