Monday, February 06, 2006

Good Enough For Government Work

When the federal government gets into the business of providing temporary housing for displaced residents, this is what people get:

But when enterprising individuals get together to
devise a solution to the temporary housing issue, we get this:

This cute little dwelling cost the same as a FEMA traier ($35,000) and has the same footprint (308 s.f.) and was built in 20 days. Mass produced, this could reasonably be halved.

A common question heard in south Louisiana is "Where is my FEMA trailer". After viewing the Katrina Cottage, as it has become known, a common question could be, "Where can I get one."

The yellow cottage with a tin roof is exactly the size of the temporary trailers the Federal Emergency Management Agency provides to victims of hurricanes and other disasters, and it costs about the same: less than $35,000.

But where a FEMA trailer looks grim and dispiriting - who wants to live next to one, let alone in one? - this house, known as the Katrina Cottage, is airy, bright and charming.

"I'm designing affordable housing," said Marianne Cusato, 31, the architect who designed the cottage. But developers who toured it, she said, were telling her they want to use the plans for upscale beach cottages or mountain resorts.

But FEMA seems to think that the trailer is all that citizens deserve, quote:
FEMA, for example, is not chartered to provide permanent housing...
The cottages, designed by Marianne Cusato, were originally designed to be "FEMA trailers with dignity," but have been so popular that people are inquiring about using them for hunting camps, mountain hide-aways and small vacation homes.

"Developer after developer came up to me, asking for the plans so they could build the cottage as beach-front housing or in ski resorts," she said.

"I insisted that this is, first and foremost, emergency housing for the people of the Gulf Coast, but that once their needs have been met, I would consider it.

"Then it hit me that what I had done was to come up with a prototype that could take off as a new way of building," she said. "The irony is that these builders never realized that affordable housing can be attractive."

Well said.

More here, here and here.

Hat tip: Veritas et Venustas.

UPDATE: Prof. David J Peronnet, RA, NCARB is not impressed and I don't care.


Nick said...

Shhh. You can't convince the government, or especially most college professors, that private industry can better meet the needs of people than government. Besides, why would the government want the efficient private sector to get involved in helping them be cost effective.

Mark said...

I look at these and go, my god, why the hell are they buying those flimsy trailers.

Everyone is the world needs to see this piece. You really need to hound the TP. I have friends there from my own time in (suburban) journalism, and I'm going to steer them all to this post.

And hell, if you can do 308 s.f. for $35,000, what will it cost to do 900 and make a psudeo-craftsman-style shotgun people can lash down to pillars and live in?

Heather Hartmann Furr said...

Come see the Katrina Cottage, it's set up in Ocean Springs, downtown. Just take I-10 to Ocean Springs, go south on exit 50, keep on the same road till you see it, right past Hwy 90 and the railroad tracks. It's beautiful! The architect and the design team, from the MS Governor's Commissiion on recovery & renewal, designed it to be added to over time, and have other versions of different sizes. The builder is located in Jackson, MS and is ready to do more. Too bad FEMA doesn't have the same enthusiasm, we'd have this recovery under way and going strong.