The Urban Post Disaster Housing Prototype marks a critical step forward in the way that cities respond to disasters in the 21st century. Superstorms like Hurricane Katrina and Sandy have proven that conventional disaster housing solutions aren’t adequate in dense urban centers. The prototype was designed by Garrison Architects for American Manufactured Structures and Services, who won the building contract from the US Army Corps of Engineers.
This prototype is preceded by more than 6 years of research by the City of New York into emergency housing,” says James Garrison, Principal of Garrison Architects. “Aside from the basics of providing shelter after a disaster, the prototype is innovative because it allows residents to remain within their communities instead of being displaced for months, or even years. “Shelter in place” allows residents to maintain their support networks - their friends and their families. Keeping neighborhoods intact is crucial for successful rebuilding.”
The aim is to create a blueprint for post-disaster housing by utilizing the latest construction technology in conjunction with stringent requirements for safety, sustainability, durability, and universal design. The modules are infinitely flexible: they can be deployed in vacant lots, private yards, or public spaces. When needed, the modules are trucked to a site, craned into place, and plugged into utilities.
“The beauty of the units lies in their inherent flexibility. They can be stacked like legos to create row housing, or they can be interspersed between existing homes and structures,” says Garrison. “These modules aren’t just for New York City - they were designed to meet the strictest zoning requirements in the US, meaning they can be quickly deployed to any corner of the country.”
For the prototype, a total of 5 modules were fabricated in Indiana by Mark Line Industries. They were then trucked to NYC and installed onsite by American Manufactured Structures and Services, general contractor for the project. “AMSS was thrilled to be able to leverage its past experiences with building time sensitive, challenging, mission critical facilities. It is an honor to work on such an important project that will benefit the people of NYC,” says Franklin Cox, Director at AMSS. “New York City represents the best in urban living and this opportunity will lead to faster recovery times should the need arise.”
With 1- and 3-bedroom configurations, every unit features a living area, bathroom, fully equipped kitchen and storage space. Units are built with completely recyclable materials, cork floors, zero formaldehyde, a double-insulated shell, and floor-to-ceiling balcony entry doors with integrated shading to lower solar-heat gain, provide larger windows, and add more habitable space. Units can be equipped with photovoltaic panels, which will not only alleviate pressure on the city grid, but also ensure the units are self-sustaining.
“Cutting edge construction methods such as modular fabrication offer many solutions for affordable housing in our nation’s urban areas, improving construction sector productivity,enhancing worker safety, and accelerating construction timelines which is of particular importance after a disaster such as a coastal superstorm,” says John R. Morrison, Director of Business Development at Mark Line Industries.
The prototype will remain on the corner of Cadman Plaza East and Red Cross Place for one to two years, undergoing occupancy tests by NYU Poly and Pratt. Guests will be invited to live in the units for 5-day intervals to fully explore their functionality. Jim Garrison continues: “We spent months honing all of the technical details for the prototype. Now it is time to investigate the intricate details of living in the units full time.”