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Guard Against the Worst Case: Urban Disaster Housing Prototype

Garrison Architects was selected by the New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to design a Disaster Housing Prototype for city residents who may lose their homes as the result of a catastrophic natural or manmade disaster. The multi-story, multi-family interim housing solution is designed to work in urban areas across the USA.

Urban post-disaster housing prototype, view from corner

Rendering: Garrison Architects

Typically, single-household homes or trailers are used for post-disaster housing. But a trailer park only accommodate 10 household per acre. Due to the high population density New York City is in need of another approach. An average block in Manhattan accommodates 200 households per acre. Therefore, the OEM and the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) planned to develop a interim housing that provides higher-density living spaces. This might also allow to resettle as many residents as possible in their former neighborhoods after a disaster. The aim was to get a blueprint for the manufactured housing industry to use to create post-disaster housing. The blueprint contains stringent requirements for safety, environmental quality, durability, and universal design.

Urban post-disaster housing prototype, front view

Rendering: Garrison Architects

The three-unit test structure designed by Garrison Architects will be pre-assembled and pre-furnished offsite, and will be 12 feet wide by 40 feet long. The units can be arranged to form a secure perimeter around an urban street and can be outfitted with photovoltaics to generate their own electricity. The units also feature balconies that help lower solar-heat gain, provide larger windows, and supply more habitable space.

Urban post-disaster housing prototype, interior

Rendering: Garrison Architects

In 2014, a test will be run with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) as project manager for the prototype construction. USACE will examine the construction process and living conditions of the housing unit, including air quality and energy efficiency. A site for the test was found on a parking lot that measures approximately 40’ x 100’ at the corner of Red Cross Place and Cadman Plaza East, adjacent to the OEM headquarters in Brooklyn.

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