Survivalist Architecture

It’s no secret that we’re an apocalypse obsessed culture. The building industry at-large has done a relatively effective job focusing on the threat of climate change, but there are a variety of worst-case scenarios that a holistic approach to sustainability will better prepare the general public to survive.


survivalist architecture

Whether the apocalypse du jour involves the arrival of peak oil, a Mayan prophecy predicting planetary disaster, or a run of the mill zombie apocalypse, there are some key design features that every architect can focus on to ensure their clients are better prepared for any end times scenario.

  • Energy Efficient Building Envelope – In an environment of scarce resources, the less energy a building requires, the better
  • Passive Solar Orientation – Key to both passive heating and natural daylighting, this is a key element to any survivalist compound
  • Operable Windows – One man’s cross ventilation is another man’s sniper nest. Whether defending your homestead against zombie hordes or roving motorcycle gangs, you’re sure to find a use for several well placed operable windows
  • Rain Catchment Systems – Let’s face it, there’s no scenario on the table where potable water and sanitary sewer services will remain operational, so a basic greywater system is really a non-negotiable item to any project
  • Green Roof – (Specifically a rooftop garden)  Growing one’s own food is always a good idea, growing one’s own food in a reasonably defensible and concealable location is quite another
  • Solar Power / Photovoltaics – While the likelihood of finding repair parts in a post apocalypse wasteland is slim, the availability of electricity could be particularly useful during the transition period, provided your neighbors don’t know you have it
  • Wind Turbines – Similar to photovoltaics, except everyone will know you have it
  • Long-Life / Low Maintenance Materials – You’re going to be plenty busy dealing with the day to day business of hoarding supplies and scavenging for food, the last thing that’s going to be on your mind is, “When was the last time I cleaned the gutters?”
  • Low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) Materials – There’s a significant chance you’ll be spending a whole lot of time indoors, the last thing you need is to be dealing with Sick Building Syndrome at the same time
  • Common Sense – There’s no substitute for it… The Farnsworth House is fun to look at and photograph, but can you imagine making your last stand there?

While there is no single one-size-fits-all strategy or solution to plan for every potential end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenario, a comprehensive approach to sustainability can be a key factor in prepping each and every client for the inevitable, horrific end that is surely waiting just around the corner for us all.

survivalist architecture - operable windows
Photos are from Avius Quovis’ photostream on Flickr (used under creative commons license)
A big thanks to Rusty Long for taking the helm at the blog today. Feel free to look for more from Rusty at or stalk him on twitter @rustylong And, make sure to double tap.
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