Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Release The Architects

The LRA has submitted it's application to FEMA's Alternative Housing Pilot Program which is intended "to identify and evaluate alternatives to and alternative forms of FEMA Disaster Housing."

No conclusions are reported in this press release but it is interesting to note some of the participants involved.

Katrina Cottages & Carpet Cottages - Cypress Cottage Partners
This partnership of The Cypress Group, The Shaw Group, ICF International, Duany Plater-Zyberk, and Lowes with architect Marianne Cusato showcases both single-family models and a multi-family model. This project includes infill redevelopment housing in New Orleans in the historic Treme neighborhood, as well as at Jackson Barracks, the headquarters of the Louisiana National Guard. Additional project sites are infill locations in Lake Charles and Abbeville - addressing diverse housing needs, particularly elderly housing for rural aging populations.

Home at Last - Family Resources of New Orleans
This non-profit community housing development organization identified two sites in rural St. Charles Parish that will serve as transitional housing communities for displaced residents of New Orleans. Working in partnership with Skyline Homes and Champion Homes, Family Resources presents a project that is transitional, while also working with modular housing developers to design an alternative solution to group trailer communities.

The Phoenix Systems-Built Home - Fibrebond Corporation
This company is an established, high production capacity firm that builds concrete panel building systems. After Hurricane Katrina, they were essential in adapting their building designs to produce and build many schools throughout the disaster-impacted area. Fibrebond has developed a model home that applies their building system and capacity to the housing market. This home represents an affordable, easily produced and built solution to the challenges of critical post-disaster housing.

SmartPlus® For A Better Built Home - Palm Harbor Homes
This manufacturing company has significant production capacity and designs that have the flexibility to be applicable Louisiana and nationwide. The models in this project represent a cost effective, attractive alternative to the trailer.

Homes Now LLP
This firm is based in Louisiana and partners with Genesis Homes, Inc. a division of Michigan based Champion Enterprises, Inc. Champion operates 36 manufacturing facilities in North America and the United Kingdom. Genesis has developed a series of off-site built homes specifically for the Southern Louisiana market. They can produce 250 homes per month or 2,880 homes per year.

CORE - Plus One
The "CORE" concept from Plus One, an architecture and construction services firm, represents an immediate emergency concept for transitional recovery housing. This CORE is a module of essential services (bathroom, kitchen, utilities) that can be appended to a home being rebuilt for a temporary period. The module can be stockpiled for reuse in the next disaster.

Once FEMA announces a decision, the state will work with the parish and municipal governments or applicable jurisdictions to determine sites, where needed, for the placement of the housing units in the most heavily impacted parishes. The LRA will set the overall housing policy and guidance for the transitioning of displaced citizens into livable homes.

More than 200,000 housing units in Louisiana suffered major or severe damage as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Currently, there are over 85,000 occupied trailers in Louisiana and an estimated need of 96,000. Louisiana has the largest number of occupied trailers both individually and in group sites of any state impacted by the hurricanes of 2005.

Based on this list it appears that the direction that Louisiana is intended to pursue is for more permanent, modular housing be provided as opposed to the tin-cans we are so accustomed to. Also I like the fact that Marianne Cusato and Duany Plater-Zyberk are involved in in this project. From the beginning, they have demonstrated the ability to think outside the box while proposing designs that are architecturaly pleasing, but also popular with the general public.

Should FEMA adopt some of what the LRA is proposing, we may see in improvement in the appearnce, value and code compliance with these new homes as they will have some things much of the current housing stock does not: economically constructed and architect designed.

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