Roof tiles as emergency raft in case of floods

For her graduation project, Dutch designer Jolein Melis developed roof tiles that, in case of a flooding, can double as an emergency raft.

With global warming, the sea level is rising, and more and more coastal areas are under the threat of flooding. In the year 2100, the sea level might have risen as much as a metre (3 feet), and tens of millions of people will have to flee their home. A quarter of the Netherlands, also aptly known as the Low Countries, already lies below Amsterdam Ordnance Datum (NAP), a number that will only rise in the coming years, while only five percent of the population has an emergency kit.

During a flood, you will want to climb higher up, to for instance the roof, which is what Melis’ project is based on. Roof tiles are the most used kind of roofing in the Netherlands.

Melis’ ‘Dakplan’ (‘Roof Plan’) consists of modular, hollow roof tiles made from recycled plastic. The tiles can be constructed to form an emergency raft. Each roof tile has a buoyancy of 5 kilograms (11 pounds), so that the user can calculate how many roof tiles they will need to stay afloat during a flood.

Unfortunately, because of high production costs, Melis’ prototype is not made from recycled plastic, but Acrylic one. It has the same properties as recycled plastic. The prototype roof tile is hollow, waterproof, lightweight, and strong. The tile is made using blow moulding, which is the same technique used to make plastic bottles.

If the roof tile comes into production, Melis aims to switch to recycled plastic. With a scaled up production process, the costs for the plastic will drop.

Photos: Jolein Melis