Without a doubt, it’s been an active couple of years (2011 was particularly rough) for Mother Nature in the temper tantrum department. Between the earthquakes, floods, drought, hurricanes, and mega-tornados, big Momma N has been on a roll as of late … and not in a good way. As a result, I’ve featured many inventive, natural disaster-resilient housing solutions, ranging from amphibious abodes in the U.K. to concrete palaces in the Ozarks to crazy underground luxury lairs built into decommissioned nuclear missile silos.

And on the topic of nuclear, with the first anniversary of the catastrophic Tohoku earthquake and tsunami coming up, antiseismic-minded Japanese thinkers are continuing to conjure up new ways to keep a home’s inhabitants and contents safe when the ground begins to rumble. One recent solution? Homes that levitate. Yes, levitate.

The creation of Air Danshin Systems Inc., this crazy-sounding but quite simple concept lifts a structure from its foundations using air pressure. It is being implemented at 88 sites across Japan. It’s also being touted by Air Danshin as an affordable and low-maintenance earthquake-proofing solution that cost one-third the price of other systems.

An in-a-nutshell explanation: When an earthquake hits, a seismic sensor triggers the system and within a second, an air tank blasts a powerful layer of compressed air in between the home and its artificial foundation. As a result, the home lifts from the foundation and hovers in mid-air at around 3 centimeters (a little over an inch). When the shaking subsides, the floating home gently falls back into place.

Pretty wild, eh? I do have to wonder though how significant the seismic activity has to be for the system to kick into gear as it would be pretty tiresome if your home started levitating every time a semi-truck rolled down the street. Check out the system in action in the videos embedded below. The first is of a model home being levitated and the second is of two human guinea pigs (that poor gentleman will obviously require some Advil) trying out the system on a smaller scale.

Via [Inhabitat] via [Grist], [Spoon-Tamago]

Also on MNN: 7 ways the quake in Japan shook the world

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Levitating homes: The future of earthquake-resilient housing in Japan?
No longer just a spooky parlor trick, a Japanese firm is turning to levitation as a means of safeguarding earthquake-prone homes against damaging tremors.