Last June, Garrison Architects unveiled their ingenious modular post-disaster housing solution. Now, as we approach the three-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, news comes that the city has finally begun testing out the units on a lot located at 165 Cadman Plaza East in Downtown Brooklyn. According to the Times, about 46 city employees and their families have spent the night in the shelters, and the reviews are most definitely favorable. “Almost everyone tells us these are nicer than their own apartments,” James McConnell, an official at the Office of Emergency Management, told the paper.
The housing complex is made up of five modules arranged three stories high, but they can be stacked safely as tall as four high. Each assemblage costs about $1.7 million, which though seemingly on the high end, offers the flexibility needed to provide housing for thousands—whether that be for a few months or years at a time—something not feasible with standard FEMA trailers in a dense cityscape like New York’s.
Although the modules are meant to offer just temporary shelter, the design doesn’t skimp on the frills. Hand-built cabinetry by Amish artisans, a spacious shower and floor-to-ceiling vista-framing glass balcony doors are just a few of the highlights to be found within the two three- and a one-bedroom units. “If you look at every single disaster, so-called temporary housing never becomes temporary,” said architect James Garrison to the Times. “We wanted to make something nice that would be built to last, but you kind of have to, too, because that could just be what winds up happening.”
The prototypes are the product of eight years of emergency housing research by the City of New York. The city started a design competition in 2008 and commissioned a pilot project that would actually be built in the city. Garrison Architects developed the winning concept around the idea of a “shelter in place,” a housing solution that would both provide a comfortable space for displaced residents and accelerate the rebuilding process.
The pilot program will run through November, and if all goes as planned, officials will look to FEMA to deploy the modules at its testing ground in Maryland. A national adoption of the program would mean that the agency’s current trailers could be a design of the past.
Images © Andrew Rugge/archphoto
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Neighborhoods : Downtown Brooklyn