Katrina Cottage VIII

Tags for this project:
Exterior ViewKeeping RoomBed Alcove

Location: Infill locations, USA. Cottages could be placed in a variety of locations and contexts

The program was conceived in the aftermath of a recent American natural disaster to provide housing that can be delivered by all major methods (site-built, panelized, modular, and manufactured); that is appropriate to the architecture of the region, and that is of excellent design.

This cottage is one of a sequence of designs that began within a week of the disaster, resulting in a new housing type. This particular cottage was built by a housing manufacturer using modular methodology and delivered to a remote site. It will be given to a worthy recipient at a later date as part of an effort to publicize the fact that, while this program began as permanent disaster housing replacement, it also has much to offer to the affordable housing crisis.

This cottage addresses several affordability issues: because it is designed to be beautiful (instead of simply cheap) it is likely to be accepted in neighborhoods where affordable housing has never been welcome before. Because it can be manufactured and shipped, it can be produced in locations with low labor costs and shipped to places where the cost of housing is high. Because of numerous design techniques (innovative storage, etc) it lives much larger than its 523 square feet. So while, at an estimated production-line retail price of $90,000, it is over $170/square foot, that is only slightly more than the FEMA trailers the original cottages in the program were meant to replace, and that buys a cottage that lives as big as houses twice as large.

The program's original cottage designs had one deficiency in common: they did not expand easily because, as the designs became smaller, more exterior wall space was used for cabinets, bathrooms, closets, etc., preventing expansion. This is the first cottage in the program designed to be highly expandable. Because they are obviously expandable to the casual observer, more customers are likely to buy them, rather than starting with a much larger house.

The ability to start small highlights another issue addressed by this cottage: it is exceptionally green. It incorporates all normal passive techniques appropriate to the mid-Atlantic region where it is installed, and also includes a number of unusual conditioning methods. For example, the curtained bed alcove allows the thermostat to be set very low in the winter because body heat helps condition the alcove. This and many other green features allow this cottage to achieve either LEED Gold or LEED Platinum, according to where it is sited in a city.

Sustainability is only a myth if the building is demolished in a generation or two because it cannot be loved by non-architects. This cottage, therefore, was designed firmly around regional architectural traditions that have been loved the longest.

Because they can be manufactured and shipped, thousands of these units can be produced.

Read more at this project's website.

Lessons learned: Changing perceptions of manufactured housing, alcoves and keeping rooms allows the entire space to fell large and open while still providing privacy, interior walls can be used for shelfing, pocket doors and ramps to the front porch provide greater accessibility and visitability, designing for grow zones is key

Transect Zone(s): T1 preserve, T2 reserve, T3 sub-urban, T4 general, T5 center, T6 core, SD district.
Status: Complete
Project or Plan's Scale: Building
Features: Affordable/subsidized housing, Green buildings.
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Project team designers: Stephen A. Mouzon
Project team developers: Housing International

Starting/Ending date of construction/implementation: -