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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

These two friends built India’s first homes that float on floodwaters

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A Kerala-based startup, NestAbide, plans to engineer amphibious structures so that residents of flood-prone regions can stay a float. The company was launched by Nanma Gireesh and her friend Ben K George.

Meet Er. Nanma Gireesh and Er. Ben K George, the co-founders of NestAbide, India’s first functional prototype of amphibious construction technology with a concrete floating base.

Their Kerala-based business plans to build amphibious shelters to assist those living in flood-prone areas in staying afloat.

During Kerala’s devastating floods in 2018, around 400 people were murdered and thousands of houses were devastated.

The floods spurred a number of heated disputes about developing technology or designs that can withstand floods and other natural calamities. At the same time, Nanma Gireesh from Thiruvananthapuram was working on her Master’s thesis on ‘amphibious homes.’ The flood and the post-flood talks on flood resilience led Nanma and classmate Ben K George to embark on an endeavor to answer the most-discussed question.

As a consequence, the two friends created NestAbide in 2018, with the goal of developing flood-resistant technology and amphibious building.

Their venture is an integrative firm that focuses on flood-related technologies before, during, and after the event.

It is also India’s only firm devoted entirely to amphibious housing, resilience, and adaptation solutions for humans.

In September 2021, they developed Amphi Nest, India’s first functional prototype of amphibious building technology with a concrete buoyant foundation.

Both Er. Nanma, and Er. Ben are students of Ph.D. from the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands. Er. Nanma is a Licenced Civil Engineer with the Government of Kerala’s Kerala Urban Affairs Department, and Er. Ben serves the Kerala Electrical Inspectorate as an Electrical Supervisor. 

With initiatives such as amphibious/floating buildings, low-cost sustainable buildings, Floating Wetlands Treatment Systems (FTWS), and River Flood Modeling Simulations, they are working on disaster-resilient infrastructure employing flood resilient eco-technologies.

Their mission is to use collaboration and diverse knowledge to improve the lives and living situations of people and the earth.

They also worked together on the Amphibious and Floating Building Research Project, which was funded by the Government of Canada through the National Research Council of Canad.  The project was carried out jointly with the University of Waterloo in Ontario.

Later that year, in 2021, the company built a functioning prototype of an amphibious building at Kuravilangad, Kerala’s Kottayam district.

As part of its Flood Resilient marketing, the company created the notion of ‘Amphibious structures.’

A flood-resistant construction that floats in floodwaters is what an amphibious building is. When a flood occurs, the buoyant foundation raises the entire structure on its dock and floats, just like any other building. Surprisingly, as the water recedes, the structure sinks back to the ground.

A house may be built for Rs.15,00,000 if the cost per square foot is Rs.2500. Amphibious technology will pave the path for people to have a safe future by defending their dwelling space without having to fight against water. They are now working on an amphibious housing project for persons living in flood-prone areas of Kuttanad and Munroe Island, which is being funded by KDISC (Kerala Development Innovation and Strategic Council).

The firm has 10 full-time staff and 33 on-call specialists, and it is also developing additional flood-resistant equipment.

Nanma and Ben are now doing their PhDs at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) and the UNESCO IHE, Delft, under the supervision of prof. Dr. Chris Zevenbergen.

For their initiative, they were recently selected to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia List 2022.


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