Stilt Houses: How an Ancient Architectural Design Could Become a Climate Solution

Stilt houses offer coastal communities a way to adapt to climate change, reducing flood risk and increasing tourism revenue.



What's your favorite type of house to live in?

As climate change has driven increasing sea level rise, hurricanes, and floods, coastal communities have had to come up with new, innovative ways to adapt to their changing environments. One such idea has been around for millennia: stilt houses, or houses build on elevated platformed raised by pillared scaffolding. Stilt houses can reduce flood risk, and even offer better ventilation, local tourism revenue, and in the Arctic, less risk to the permafrost beneath them. But stilt houses have challenges to overcome, from vulnerability to wind, earthquakes, and permafrost thaw to inaccessibility to social stigmas. Today, we explore what opportunities stilt houses present, what issues they face, and what needs to happen for this climate solution to live up to its full potential. With special guest Dr. Thang Dao: Associate Professor of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alabama.

The Sweaty Penguin is presented by Peril and Promise: a public media initiative from The WNET Group in New York, reporting on the issues and solutions around climate change. You can learn more at

This episode is the first in our four-part series collaborating with the Gulf Climate Listening Project covering environmental issues on the Gulf Coast. If you are interested in learning about stopping LNG exports and creating a better future on the Gulf Coast, visit

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Writers: Olivia Amitay, Madeleine Salman, Mo Polyak, Ethan Brown

Fact Checker: Owen Reith

Editor: Ethan Brown

Producers: Ethan Brown, Hallie Cordingley, Shannon Damiano

Ad Voiceover: Mo Polyak

Music: Brett Sawka

The opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the host and guests. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Peril and Promise or The WNET Group.


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The Sweaty Penguin
The Sweaty Penguin is a digital news source and podcast aiming to make environmental issues less overwhelming and politicized and more accessible and fun.


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